Exploring age and gender differences in health risk behaviours and psychological functioning among homeless children and adolescents.


This study describes the findings from quantitative examination of age and gender differences in psychological problems and health risk behaviour among 227 homeless youth. The findings indicated significant variations on health risk behaviours by gender. As compared to males, females were more likely to engage in survival sex, been victims of violence-rated sex, and more likely to have made a plan to commit suicide. While alcohol use decrease with age, marijuana use and having multiple sexual partners, on the other hand, increases with age. Approximately 87% of the participant’s exhibit moderate-to-severe psychological problems, with males having significantly higher scores on the overall psychological well-being, emotional and hyperactivity problems than females. Age-group differences were also observed on overall psychological well-being, emotional problems, conduct problems and hyperactivity. These findings from the study are discussed with reference to previous research and implications for interventions are provided.