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SOC310H5 (39)
Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Street-involved youth.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Abigail Salole

Chapter 8: Street-Involved Youth- Conditions, Consequences, and Interventions Introduction  Street-involved youth one of the most stigmatized and marginalized groups in our society  Street-involved youth: group of young people working and/or living on or about the street  Street entrenchment: forced economic survival, abuse of drugs, violence and denial of human dignity that comes with being absorbed in street life  Street-involved youth are heterogeneous, with experiences conditioned and contoured by race, class and gender relations  Politics of exclusion: social isolation reinforced by relations of power  Neo-conservatism: at core of politics of exclusion; discourse that holds accountable and targets vulnerable and marginalized groups (street-involved youth) Who are Street-Involved Youth?  Chronic instability- defined in terms of housing, relationships, income, and health- characterizes and unites street-involved youth  Longer a teen remains homeless, the more likely he is to commit offences in order to survive Socio-DemographicSnapshot of Sreet-InvolvedYouth: Key Findings •sex and age: greater proportion males, 2:1 ratio between 15-24 years old, average age 19 •ethnicity and citizenship: less than 10% born outside Canada, 60% Caucasian, 12% African, Asian, Middle Eastern, or other, Aboriginals overrepresented(3% of Cdn population but 33% of street-involvedyouth) •personal history: conflict with parents primary reason for leaving home, 70% reported having a social worked, 25% experineced homelessnesswhile living with family, more half suffered emotionalabuse, almost half either verbally or physically abused by parents •education and income: 35% dropped out of school, 25% use social assistance as primary source of income , repoted occassional work, panhandling and prostitution •health: sexually active population, high rates of STDs, substance abuse  Females make up third of homeless and street-youth population in Toronto o Some females overrepresented among street-involved youth including aboriginal girls, young women in public care, lesbians and refuges  Street-involved youth more likely to have dropped out of school  Increasing poverty significant factor related to youth homelessness Conditions, Definitions, and Prevalence of Homelessness  Absolute homelessness- sleeping in places unfit for human habitation (i.e. abandoned buildings, vehicles, doorways, parks, and tents)  Relative homelessness- situations where basic standards are not met (i.e. sleeping on friend’s couch) ; housed but do not have safe and secure living arrangements Youth, Child Poverty, and the New Welfare State  Homelessness cuts across class, gender, and race lines and must be understood as reflecting social inequalities of larger society from which it stems  Homelessness particularly an issue for aboriginals  Hutson and Liddiard argue that three main structural factors account for why youth comprise significant portion of homeless population: o Reduction in affordable housing that is accessible to young people o Youth unemployment o Reduction in state benefits **these factors contribute to inequality and unequal distribution of scarce resources Unstable Living Situations  Social failures that should be made responsible for youth homelessness  Canadian cities experiencing housing crisis  Poverty and homelessness intertwined social problems  Catch 22 of homelessness- homeless person needs an address to get a job but needs a job to get an address/home Unstable Youth Employment  Obtaining work doesn’t necessarily change homeless status; low wages could mean people still remain homeless/in poverty  Youth unemployment rate at 16%  Rise in the working poor since late 1990s  Squeegeing as a way of earning money- o Moral panic around squeegee kids- nuisance and risk of theft posed to public o Ontario Safe Streets Act criminalized begging, loitering, and Squeegeing – resort to criminal means to survive on the streets Unstable Support: Reduction in State Benefits  Common Sense Revolution- Ontario Conservative government’s program of deficit and tax reduction and cuts to government programs and spending  Welfare reform in form of “Ontario Works:- decreased social assistance benefits while narrowing eligibility  As the cost of living increasing without increase in social assistance benefits as jobs become less secure and unstable, more individuals cannot bring in sufficient income to meet basic needs  Central to current economic, social and political structures that shape young people’s lives is a shift away from social welfarism to neo-liberal and neo-conservative rationalities and policies Social Exclusion: Case for Female Youth  Violence against women plays significant role in them becoming homeless  Link between child abuse, pregnancy, and homelessness among women  Recruitment into sex trade on the streets common  Relations of power or the conditions that make prostitution a ‘choice’ for some women remain unchallenged Social Exclusion: Case for Aboriginal Youth  Aboriginals historically subjected to intrusive, repressive and invasive state control Pathways to the Street: Individual Histories and Micro-Level Characteristics  Viewing young person’s choice to run away as connected to individual personal characteristics and also social structures, we see four social/psychological pathways that lead to alienated and marginalized youth to the streets: Parent-Adolescent Conflict -most cited pathway to the streets -background of strained and problematic relations with family/caregivers -friction with step-parents, conflict over school, drug/alcohol problems, rejection over sexual orientation, punishment for sexual activity -thus have difficulty trusting adults -most youth run away to escape destructive home situation or family conflict -root of problem often child abuse, neglect, maltreatment or family violence -family disruptions create instability -parental attempts to control daughters; sexual behaviour Family Violence, Child Abuse, -physical and sexual abuse primary pathways to streets and Maltreatment -psychological distress experienced as result of abuse differs for each sex -females and aboriginal children disproportionately victims of abuse Organizational dynamics -youth in public care (especially aboriginals and females) are vulnerable (specifically child welfare) -being under care in child welfare and state control and dependency often generational; cycle that perpetuated from one generation to next -“aging out” process- homeless minors who are no longer involved in child-welfare but also not eligible to use shelters/receive income support; thus, child-welfare services are inadequate for those between 16-19 Personal Problems -psychological issues like low self-esteem, depression, and addictions -have to be understood in context of young person’s family background and home life -issues of depression and other mental illnesses more prevent among street-involved youth, especially females - linked to insecure and potentially violent sleeping areas and lack of stable support network -drugs provide immediate coping mechanism/thrill 10 factors that play a role in a young person becoming involved in street life •family d
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