Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Homeless youths most often victims of crime

Date:
September 28, 2010
Source:
York University
Summary:
Homeless youths in Toronto are victims of crime at rates that would be considered unacceptable for any other group, according to a new report. More than 76 percent of homeless youth surveyed said they had been victims of violent crime in the past year, and almost three-quarters reported multiple incidents. Females and those who became homeless at the age of 16 or 17 were most vulnerable.

Homeless young people are victims of crime at rates that society would consider unacceptable for any other group, according to a new report by researchers at York University and the University of Guelph.

The report, Surviving Crime and Violence: Street Youth and Victimization in Toronto, highlights the degree to which it is street youth themselves − often perceived as delinquent and dangerous − who are vulnerable to crime and violence.

"The very people we are taught to fear are the ones who are most at risk," said Professor Stephen Gaetz, associate dean of research and field development in York's Faculty of Education. "More than 76 per cent of the homeless youth we surveyed said they had been victims of violent crime in the past year, and almost three-quarters of them reported multiple incidents."

In comparison, about 40 per cent of young people in the general population reported that they had been victimized in the previous year, when the Canadian General Social Survey last asked them about it in 1999 − and they experienced mostly property crime.

Gaetz and University of Guelph Professor Bill O'Grady interviewed 244 homeless youths across Toronto last year about life on the streets. Their report was commissioned by Justice for Children and Youth, a not-for-profit legal aid clinic that operates a Street Youth Legal Services program, providing legal advice and support to homeless youth in Toronto.

The solution to problems youth face on the streets lies in changing the way youth homelessness is addressed, according to the report. It calls for a balanced response that, instead of relying mostly on emergency services, would balance preventive measures, an emergency response, and transitional support to move young people out of homelessness quickly.

In the interviews, conducted at agencies serving youth in downtown Toronto and the suburbs:

  • female street youth were more likely than males to report being victims of crime (85.9 per cent compared to 71.8 per cent).
  • 38.2 per cent of the female street youth reported being victims of sexual assault. Reports of sexual assault were higher among black females (47 per cent) than white females (33 per cent).
  • 60 per cent of lesbian and bisexual females reported that they had been sexually assaulted in the past year, making them perhaps the most victimized group among street youth.
  • young homeless women reported extremely high levels of violence and abuse from their intimate partners.
  • youths who had become homeless at a young age (16 or 17) were much more likely to have been violently victimized than young people who became homeless later.
  • only 20 per cent of all respondents said they had alerted police about their victimization.

Much has changed since Gaetz first wrote a report on homeless youth in Toronto, also for Justice for Children and Youth, seven years ago. The City of Toronto and non-profit agencies have improved services, and the City has expanded its Streets to Homes program to move youth into housing. Street Youth Legal Services, a program of Justice for Children and Youth, has expanded its capacity to support young people with their legal and justice issues.

However, the report concludes federal, provincial and municipal governments should be addressing youth homelessness with an integrated strategy that includes: an adequate supply of supported, affordable housing for young people; efforts by health and mental health sectors, corrections and child welfare services to ensure their practices do not contribute to homelessness; crisis intervention and family mediation to help young people remain housed; and transitional approaches with income, social and health care supports for young people.

"Many people, including policy makers, believe that youth homelessness and crime are linked, and they use laws such as the Safe Streets Act to 'move along' young people," said Gaetz. "In fact, our findings show that young homeless people are among the most victimized people in our society, and they need our protection."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

York University. "Homeless youths most often victims of crime." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100927105203.htm>.
York University. (2010, September 28). Homeless youths most often victims of crime. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100927105203.htm
York University. "Homeless youths most often victims of crime." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100927105203.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins