Preventing Recurrent Sexual Exploitation in Homeless Youth: The Chicago STRIVE Project

Research Team

Dawn Bounds, Principal Investigator, Rush University College of Nursing
Wrenetha Julion, Co-investigator, Rush University College of Nursing
Niranjan Karnick, Co-investigator, Rush Medical College
Kathryn Keenan, Co-investigator, University of Chicago
Norweeta Milburn, Consultant, University of California Los Angeles

Funding Source

Rush College of Nursing Faculty Pilot Grant

Award Period

1/1/19 - 4/30/20

Abstract

In collaboration with experts, youth, and their families we plan to prevent recurrent sexual exploitation and its consequences for homeless racial/ethnic and sexual minority youth. Sexual exploitation reinforces engagement in high-risk sexual behaviors and street-based behaviors that lead to health problems like HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and unwanted teenage pregnancy. Sexually exploited youth are exposed to trauma that impacts their psychological well-being, leading to mental health problems such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide.

Our goals include: 1) targeting homeless youth who are most at risk for continued exploitation, 2) focusing on strengthening family functioning, which is an important part of successful interventions for homeless youth, and 3) tailoring our approach to those who are most likely to be sexually exploited (racial/ethnic and/or sexual/gender minorities).

The purpose of this study is to (1) adapt a family re-engagement strategy for homeless youth called Support to Reunite, Involve and Value Each Other (STRIVE) to reduce recurrent sexual exploitation of sexually exploited homeless youth who are ethnic/racial and/or sexual/gender minorities; and (2) to test the feasibility and preliminary impact of the adapted STRIVE intervention (Chicago STRIVE) on reducing risk factors that predispose youth to subsequent episodes of sexual exploitation.

During Phase I, STRIVE will be adapted by content experts versed in youth homelessness and sexual exploitation. Then STRIVE will be refined by an advisory group of sexually exploited homeless youth who are ethnic/racial and/or sexual/gender minorities and their parents/guardian/primary caregivers.

Phase 2 is a pilot study of the adapted STRIVE intervention (Chicago STRIVE) to determine if STRIVE can be implemented and effective with ethnic/racial and/or sexual/gender minorities.