Primary Sources: Do Homeless Youth with Abuse Histories Want Help Dealing with Trauma?

Photograph of a young person.

Screening homeless youth for histories of abuse: Prevalence, enduring effects, and interest in treatment” (abstract), Child Abuse & Neglect, 35(5), June 2011.

What it’s about: At a Salt Lake City drop-in center, researchers screened 64 homeless youth, ages 18 to 23, for histories of physical and sexual abuse. The researchers were interested in learning how much youth felt that the abuse still affected them and whether they would be willing to seek treatment. 

Why read it: Though the number of participants was small, and the results may not be applicable to the general population of homeless youth, the study offers interesting insights into the long-term affects abuse can have on homeless young people.

Biggest takeaways for youth workers: Of the 64 youth screened,

  • 54 said they had been either physically or sexually abused or both;
  • 39 said they were still bothered by past abuse; and
  • 24 said they were interested in treatment for the trauma they'd experienced.

The authors encourage providers to routinely screen youth for past abuse and to present youth with all their treatment options. The authors also highlight the need for evidence-based treatment models, such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, to be adapted and studied in drop-in centers and other programs for homeless youth.

Additional reference: A free web-based learning course on Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is available to mental health students or professionals through the Medical University of South Carolina.

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of this and other publications.)

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