Perpetrators of Street Sexual Victimization Among Homeless and Runaway Youth

Kimberly A. Tyler, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Ana Mari Cauce, University of Washington

Based on structural choice theory, the current study looks at predictors of friend versus stranger sexual victimization among 372 homeless and runaway youth in Seattle. Results revealed that youth who engaged in deviant subsistence strategies and survival sex were more likely to be sexually victimized by a friend whereas spending time in the street environment (e.g., sleeping on the street) was associated with being sexually victimized by a stranger. Older youth and those with a kept physical appearance were more likely to be sexually victimized by a friend. The interaction of gender x deviant subsistence strategies was significant indicating that a young woman's chances of being a victim of friend sexual victimization elevated significantly as her participation in deviant subsistence strategies increased. Age x deviant subsistence strategy was also significant suggesting that 19-year-olds had the highest rates of friend sexual victimization. No significant interactions were found for the stranger sexual victimization model. These results support the structural choice theory of victimization among homeless and runaway youth such that engaging in high-risk behaviors predisposes some people to greater risks but it is the combination of these behaviors with gender and/or age that determines who will be victimized.

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Updated 05/20/2006