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Life-Styles, Adaptive Strategies, and Sexual Behaviors of Homeless Adolescents
Milton Greenblatt; Marjorie J. Robertson
Psychiatric Services 1993; doi:
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This research was partly funded by grant 85-76258 from the California Department ofMental Health and also by professional services contract 87M023952101D from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Additional funds were provided by the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center Education and Research Institute. The authors thank members of the research team, including Christine Grella, Ph. D., Roger Skinner, M. S. W., Kim Hollingshead, Linda Ferguson, M. A., and Paul Koegel, Ph. D., the principal consultant for the project.

Los Angeles County Olive View-UCLA, Medical Center, 14445 Olive View Drive, Sylinar, California 91342; University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine

University of California, Berkeley

1993 by the American Psychiatric Association

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The purpose of this study was to gather information about homeless adolescents, a largely invisible and understudied population. Methods: Highly trained interviewers conducted structured face-to-face field interviews with 93 homeless adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles. Results: Seventy-nine percent of the sample bad experienced more than one homeless episode in their lifetime, and almost a fourtb reported more than ten episodes. Mean length of time homeless was 440 days ( median of 201 days). Aggressive and violent behaviors, including stealing, destruction of property, and physical fights, were common. The sample had a high prevalence of several mental disorders, including conduct disorder with aggression, major depression, and alcohol and drug abuse. Almost half had attempted suicide. Nearly all the adolescents were sexually active; about a third had more than ten partners in the previous year. About a third reported trading sex for money, foıx1, or drugs. Although most had basic knowledge of HJV transmission and used some form of birth control, little more than halfhad useda condom in the most recent sexual encounter, and 18 percent reported sex with intravenous drug users. Conclusions: Further research on this population is needed, andfollow-up contacts in particular are essential in developing appropriate and successful service programs for them.

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