National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Family Risk Factors and Prevalence of Dissociative Symptoms among Homeless and Runaway Youth

Tyler, K. A.,
Cauce, A. M.,
Whitbeck, L.
Year Published: 2004
Journal Article
Elsevier Ltd.
Child Abuse & Neglect, 28(3):355-366, March 2004.
Department of Sociology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska

The purpose of this study was to examine family risk factors associated with dissociative symptoms among homeless and runaway youth. A total of 328 homeless and runaway youth (ages 13 to 21) in metropolitan Seattle were interviewed using a systematic sampling strategy. Experienced outreach workers from youth service agencies interviewed the homeless young people on the streets and in shelters. Results demonstrate widespread prevalence of dissociative symptoms among these youth. Multivariate analyses revealed that sexual abuse, physical abuse, and family mental health problems were all positively associated with dissociative symptoms. No gender differences were found for any of the models. These findings suggest that dissociative behavior is widespread among homeless and runaway youth and may pose a serious mental health concern. Unless youth are provided with programs and intervention, the cycle of abuse that they have experienced at home is likely to continue on the street. Modified Author Abstract.

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