Textbook Notes (369,133)
Canada (162,403)
Sociology (1,112)
SOC 3750 (50)
Chapter 12

Chapter 12.docx

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SOC 3750
Bill O' Grady

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Chapter 12 Chapter 12: Introduction · Street-involved youth are visible living on the streets of most major Canadian urban centers th · 19 century literature popularized Huckleberry Finn and Oliver Twist in stories of street children existing and surviving on their own · Recognition and awareness of street-youth has increased with media attention · The plight of street-involved youth continues to worsen in Canada · A variety of typologies, or classifications, of street-involved youth have developed o Based on the intent, or purpose, of the street-involvement, the time spent on the street, the factors associated with street-involvement, and whether there is a choice of returning home · Street-involved youth experience a decrease in rights, opportunities and social supports o Also at higher risk of developing mental health problems, some of which can lead to suicide o Involvement in survival or obligatory sex o Developing physical health concerns including contracting sexually transmitted diseases o Getting involved in criminal/delinquent activities o Using and abusing drugs o Not meeting their basic physical needs for food, clothing and shelter · Insufficient attention has been given to the service needs of street-involved youth Defining Street-Involved Youth vs. Homeless Adults · Street-involved youth includes within its definition throwaways, runaways and homeless youth · Recent definitions of street-involved youth have expanded to include youth who are not living on the street but who experiment and engage in street-involved activities and identify with the street culture and street peer groupings · Youth living on the street present as a unique service population in comparison to the adult homeless population · Homelessness for adults is typically a housing and poverty issue · Four specific structural issues contribute to adult homelessness: 1. An increasing number of people are being priced out of the affordable housing market 2. Employment opportunities for those individuals with secondary education are dwindling 3. Institutional supports have been reduced for those people with severe mental health and addiction concerns 4. People are excluded from affordable housing due to racial, ethnic, and/or class discrimination · Many of the same individual risk factors are the same for youth, including high rates of childhood maltreatment, child-welfare involvement, mental health concerns, incomplete education, and drug use · However, factors that trigger youth street involvement are different Typologies of Street-Involved Youth · Typologies developed in the US/Canada over the past 30 years include but aren’t limited to: o Youth who experiment with street life by occasional running away or truancy o Children who run from home to escape maltreatment and harm o Young people who have spent years living on the streets and are firmly entrenched in street lifestyle · Life-cycle model developed through and ethnographic study based in San Francisco o Useful for understanding the duration and range of street-involvement youth experience o Stages of street life: initial engagement, becoming more comfortable, periods of crisis (transition off the street) o Many youth who exit the street become re-involved · Street mentors provide youth with basic street survival skills and in understanding the culture of street life · Classification systems consider pathways to the street, the frequency and duration of street involvement, the level of individual choice for being on the street, and options for leaving the street · Further work is needed to test and validate typologies The Life-Cycle Model of Youth Homelessness · Auerswald and Eyre 2002 · Textbook Figure 12.1 p. 282 Numbers of Street-Involved Youth · To date there are no accurate estimates for the Canadian street-involved youth population · National incidence studies of missing youth in the United States suggest that more than 1.6 million youth in the US can be described as street involved · In 1999, it was estimated 150 000 youth were homeless or street involved in Canada · Gaetz, O’Grady and Vaillancourt (1999) report that the Toronto Hostel Division estimated an average of 325 to 340 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 were living in shelters on any given night in Toronto · In Calgary, homeless youth currently represent approximately 13 percent of the entire homeless population · Figures cannot be entirely accurate, as they don’t take into account those sleeping in public areas, those who rely on friends for short-term accommodation (couch surfing) or those who engage in street lifestyle only during the day · Cross-sectional counts of those on the streets, in shelters, or in other service agencies do not capture the fluidity or diversity of the street-involved youth population · Several critical issues to consider when planning an estimate or count of the number of street involved youth include (p.283): o What criteria determine street involvement? o How should street-involved youth be contacted? o Should shelter numbers be used on which to base predictions of the uncounted street-involved population who do not access shelters or services? Perspectives on Street-Involved Youth · The lens or perspective with which we view street-involved youth in Canada has shifted constantly over the past half century · Prior to the 1960s, youth on the street were seen as delinquents who were there as a result of their own individual pathology and deviant nature · Shift in the 1960s due to the counter-culture movement that saw an increased number of middle- class teens living on city streets · Factors related to the family and school were primary areas of concern in the 1970s · Maltreatment of children became a paramount concern for research and service delivery during the 1980s and early 1990s · The increase in HIV/AIDS, chronic poverty, inadequate housing, unemployment or under- employment deinstitutionalization, and the challenged and overworked systems of child welfare are all critical factors that impact street-involved youth in Canada · An ecological perspective has frequently been used as a theoretical framework for understanding the runaway and homeless phenomenon o Developed by Kufeldt and Burrows (1994) based on initial work by Bronfenbrenner (1974), and later expanded on by Garbarino (1982) o “A child’s development is influenced by a complex network of family, friends, school, community resources, and ultimately, by forces outside the child’s immediate experience, such as government decisions and cultural or societal expectations” o Ecological Framework: Figure 12.2 p.285 Pathways to the Street – The Vulnerable Population · A significant proportion of street-involved youth identify that they initially left home as a result of family conflict, disruption, and maltreatment · Many youth leave home because they were thrown out or forced to leave, or because they thought further independence · Other youth become involved following early exit from or aging-out of the child-welfare system Family Experience · Large percentages of street-involved youth report a history of child maltreatment · The Enhanced Surveillance of Canadian Street Youth (E-SYS) is an ongoing project to monitor behaviours, risk determinants, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and related infections in the Canadian street-youth population o E-SYS reported that between 19% and 28% of street-involved youth left home because of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse o 30% reported experiencing neglect in their homes · The maltreatment experienced by street-involved youth is consistently reported to be chronic, extreme, and initiated at a young age · McLaurin et al. (2009) surveyed street-youth in Calgary (p.284) · Children who experience maltreatment within their family may resort to running away from home as an alternative to abuse or neglect Child-Welfare Experiences · Children and youth who have experienced maltreatment and family conflict frequently become involved with child welfare and are referred to child-welfare care (foster care, group homes, treatment centers) · Children in the care of child-welfare are over-represented in most street-youth populations o May be a reflection of the number of youth who run away from current child-welfare care, or of those youth who became homeless following emancipation from care · In Canada a high percentage of children reported missing to the police are from institutional or foster care · Child-welfare agencies have the mandate to effectively serve the transitional needs of youth as they prepare for independence following their in-care placements · Research focusing on the health and housing outcomes of youth aging out of the child-welfare system has identified that these young people are not consistently well served · Rees (1993) found that street-involved youth who had left child-welfare placements were more likely to run repeatedly, more likely to run for longer periods of time, and more likely to be apprehended by police Life on the Streets · The street is its own world with its own rules, culture, and norms · Auerswald and Eyre (2002) identify initial experience of the street is characterized by feelings of loneliness, disorientation, and the need to survive · Youth find street mentors and become acculturated to the street o Learn the street’s resources, economy, language and drugs · Victimization on the street is common among street-involved youth o Theft/robbery o Sexual assault o Physical assault o Assault with a weapon · Level of victimization is often doubled in gay, lesbian and bisexual street-youth · Mortality rate for street-involved youth is about 11 times the expected rate for the general youth population · Gaetz (2004) notes that a significant proportion of street-involved youth do not turn to anyone when they’ve experienced victimization on the street Social Support and Resilience · Street-involved youth develop social networks that can be a source of support · Nearly 80% of youth have relationships that were formed prior to their time on the streets, and 66% have friends from home, indicating that these youth still value the ties from their past · Weaker family ties are associated with youth who have externalizing behaviour problem; with gay, lesbian and bisexual youth; and with those who experience caregiver abuse prior to leaving home · Street acquaintances provide an element of family support o There for personal, financial and emotional s
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