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Abstract

Anecdotal evidence from those who work with homeless youth indicates that trauma permeates these young people's lives. This paper presents the findings from a study of 100 homeless youth regarding the presence of trauma in their lives, both before and during homelessness. Participants living in the Maritime Provinces volunteered to take part in a semi-structured interview lasting one to two hours. The interview questionnaire was conducted by a trained interviewer, and was composed of standardized and adapted survey instruments, as well as questions regarding demographics, experiences prior to becoming homeless, assistance received while dealing with stressors, and current needs. The results indicate that trauma is both a cause and a consequence of youth being homeless, as a large majority of participants experienced a number of types of highly stressful events both preceding and during homelessness, and that trauma in the lives of both male and female homeless youth should be understood as a pervasive reality with serious implications. Implications for service delivery are discussed.

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