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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Homeless Adolescents' Paths to Separation from Family: Comparison of Family Characteristics, Psychological Adjustment, and Victimization
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Although a great deal of research has addressed the dissolution of the family through parental death or divorce, much less is known about the growing trend of youths separating from the family. The present study investigates three paths to adolescents' separation from their families - running away, being kicked out, and being removed from the home - and how they are related to family background characteristics, current psychological symptomatology, familial relationships, and victimization on the streets. A sample of 356 homeless adolescents was grouped according to who instigated their separation from family (themselves, 35.4%, their parents, 33.7%, or authorities, 17.7%). Adolescents removed from their family had the most problematic family background and the runaways had the least. However, despite adequate statistical power, no differences were found in current family relationships, psychological symptomatology or rates of recent victimization. These findings suggest that the traumatic experience of homelessness may supersede the differential background factors, resulting in equally high rates of distress and victimization. (Authors)
Journal
1999
27
2
179-187