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J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2011;40(6):878-89. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2011.614581.

Protective factors associated with fewer multiple problem behaviors among homeless/runaway youth.

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Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California San Francisco, CA 94105, USA.


Although homeless youth exhibit numerous problem behaviors, protective factors that can be targeted and modified by prevention programs to decrease the likelihood of involvement in risky behaviors are less apparent. The current study tested a model of protective factors for multiple problem behavior in a sample of 474 homeless youth (42% girls; 83% minority) ages 12 to 24 years. Higher levels of problem solving and planning skills were strongly related to lower levels of multiple problem behaviors in homeless youth, suggesting both the positive impact of preexisting personal assets of these youth and important programmatic targets for further building their resilience and decreasing problem behaviors. Indirect relationships between the background factors of self-esteem and social support and multiple problem behaviors were significantly mediated through protective skills. The model suggests that helping youth enhance their skills in goal setting, decision making, and self-reliant coping could lessen a variety of problem behaviors commonly found among homeless youth.

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