MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Paula Braitstein, PhD
Division of Epidemiology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Department of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya Department of Epidemiology, Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indiana University, Indianapolis
Regenstrief Institute Inc, Indianapolis, Indiana
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Braitstein: There are vast numbers of children and youth in the world who find themselves in street circumstances. Yet, there is an absence of consensus among academics, policymakers, stakeholders, and international organizations regarding the causes of child and youth street-involvement around the world. Without data concerning these reasons, policies are developed or implemented to mitigate street-involvement without taking these causes into account. Often, the prevailing paradigm assumes that children and youth on the street are juvenile delinquents and the government response is often characterized by social exclusion, criminalization, and oppression by police and civic authorities. Therefore we wanted to find out what reasons do children and youth self-report for their street-involvement globally.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Dr. Braitstein: We systematically reviewed the literature and compiled data from 49 studies representing 24 countries globally. Street-connected children and youth most frequently reported poverty, family conflict, and abuse as their reasons for street-involvement. They infrequently identified delinquent behaviours for their circumstances. There were no significant differences between males and females reported reasons, with the exception of females in developed regions who were more likely to report abuse.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Braitstein: Children and youth’s reported reasons for street-involvement indicate they are in extremely difficult circumstances, and require support, protection, and policies to mitigate their street-involvement. Globally, street-connected children and youth have significant morbidities and mortality, and are at high risk of substance use, sexual exploitation, and HIV. This vulnerable population requires specialized care that is responsive to the complex circumstances they find themselves in.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Braitstein: Future research should focus on how to prevent children and youth street-involvement and implementing and evaluating interventions to assist those already in street circumstances.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Dr. Braitstein: With vast numbers of children and youth in the world who find themselves connected to the streets, there is an urgent need for researchers, policymakers, stakeholders and organizations to collaborate to effectively respond to this growing crisis.
Embleton L, Lee H, Gunn J, Ayuku D, Braitstein P. Causes of Child and Youth Homelessness in Developed and Developing Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. Published online April 04, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0156.
Dr. Paula Braitstein (2016). Street Children Report Poverty, Family Conflict, and Abuse as Reasons For Their Homelessness MedicalResearch.com