Presenter: Kimberly A. Tyler, Professor, Department of Sociology,University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Homeless youth in the United States face numerous health disparities over the life course. They are at increased risk for negative outcomes including victimization, substance abuse, criminal activity, and poor mental health. Childhood abuse and family conflict are common occurrences in the homes of many young people prior to their leaving home. Young people who spend more time out on the street are at greater risk of being re-victimized. Additionally, the longer youth are out on their own, the more likely they are to become embedded in street networks which increase their participation in risky behaviors. Though a lot has been written on risk factors, very little is known about the day to day experiences of homeless young people and the protective influences they have, which are vital determinants for helping young people transition off of the streets. This study uses real-time data collection techniques with homeless youth to gather information on risk and protective factors as well as drinking and drug use. The use of short message service (SMS) surveying is used to uncover the temporal ordering of victimization, substance use, and mental health. This study also assesses how amenable homeless youth are to real-time data collection techniques and how this particular data collection strategy can be used as a tool to intervene with this vulnerable and underserved population.