Mental health correlates of victimization classes among homeless youth

Literature reports high rates of street victimization among homeless youth and recognizes psychiatric symptoms associated with such victimization. Few studies have investigated the existence of victimization classes that differ in type and frequency of victimization and how youth in such classes differ in psychiatric profiles. We used latent class analysis (LCA) to examine whether classes of homeless youth, based on both type and frequency of victimization experiences, differ in rates of meeting diagnostic criteria for major depressive episodes and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of homeless youth (N = 601) from three regions of the United States. Results suggest youth who experience high levels of direct and indirect victimization (high-victimization class) share similarly high rates of depressive episodes and PTSD as youth who experience primarily indirect victimization only (witness class). Rates of meeting criteria for depressive episodes and PTSD were nearly two and three times greater, respectively, among the high victimization and witness classes compared to youth who never or rarely experienced victimization. Findings suggest the need for screening and intervention for homeless youth who report direct and indirect victimization and youth who report indirect victimization only, while prevention efforts may be more relevant for youth who report limited victimization experience.

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Child Abuse & Neglect