Correlates of Resilience in Homeless Adolescents
Purposes: To (a) describe reasons adolescents give for their homelessness, (b) explore relationships among resilience and selected risk and protective factors, (c) identify differences in risk and protective factors by gender and sexual orientation, and (d) determine best predictors of resilience.
Design: A descriptive and exploratory correlational design was used to collect and analyze data from a convenience sample of 59 homeless adolescents who sought health and social services from a community street-outreach project in central Texas in 1998.
Methods: A paper and pencil survey consisting of valid measures (Resilience Scale, UCLA-Revised Loneliness Scale, Beck Hopelessness Scale, Social Connectedness Scale, and Death-Related Attitude Schedule) was administered in a street-outreach setting.
Findings: Nearly half the sample (47%) reported a history of sexual abuse and 36% self-identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in orientation. Over half (51%) were thrown out of their homes by their parents, 37% left home because their parents disapproved of their alcohol or drug use, and nearly one-third left home because parents sexually abused them. Lack of resilience was ignificantly related to hopelessness, loneliness, life-threatening behaviors, and connectedness, but not to gender or sexual orientation. Hopelessness and connectedness explained 50% of the variance in resilience.
Conclusions: Participants who perceived themselves as resilient, although disconnected from other people, were less lonely, less hopeless, and engaged in fewer life-threatening behaviors than were those who perceived themselves as not being resilient. They survived by adapting to street life and by becoming overly self-reliant. Findings may be useful in planning interventions to promote health and well-being in this vulnerable population. (Authors)
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