Trauma in street children and those at risk of the street in Mexico City
Montagno, Angela Gabriella
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Objectives: To determine trauma exposure, risk factors and trauma severity in a sample of street children in a Mexico City agency. Methods: Cross-sectional, semi-structured and self-report interviews with 100 street children of a total of 181 children served at the agency during the study time frame from February 24-April 28, 2006. Eighty children did not participate in the study based on the exclusion criteria. The response rate for those eligible was 99% (100 of 101 children). These children received the Background and Life Events Questionnaire. Sixty-six of the children identified a worst traumatic event and responded to the When Bad Things Happen (WBTH) scale. Results: Significant findings found four risk factors of trauma severity in bivariate analyses including, female gender, sexual abuse/assault victims, multiple exposures to the same trauma, and direct exposure to trauma. In the multivariate analyses, both the variables of sexual abuse/assault and gender were significant in all models except with one another. Conclusions: Sexual abuse/assault and female gender were two risk factors associated with higher trauma severity in street children and those at risk of the streets. Bivariate analyses concluded that trauma exposure in street children consisted of both single and multiple exposures with higher severity scores for multiple exposures to the same trauma. Additionally, direct mode of exposure to the trauma also was associated with higher severity scores. Street children and those at risk of the street, especially females of sexual victimization, may benefit from enhanced psychological services for traumatic life exposures.