Predictors of Police Contact for Midwestern Homeless and Runaway Youth

Lisa Thrane, Iowa State University
Dan R. Hoyt, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Les B. Whitbeck, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

This study assessed the traditional correlates of offeending among a sample of 601 homeless and runaway youth interviewed in shelter facilities and drop-in centers as well as directly on the streets in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas. The role of individual and familial risk factors and deviant street behaviors on later police contact was evaluated. In identifying predictors of self-reported police contact, the current study found that males and non-whites had significantly more frequent reports of police contact. As expected, age was positively associated with the outcome variable. Prior arrests as well as paternal involvement in serious crime were important predictors of involvement with the police. Physical abuse was mediated by the age adolescents' ran away. Street factors such as number of days that adolescents spent directly on the street, deviant subsistence strategies, and drug use increaseed police contact. After controlling for other variables, the city location where adolescents were interviewed did not exert a significant influence in the final model. There were some indications of significant interactions in predictors of police contact by age as well as by age at first run away.

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Updated 05/20/2006