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Adolescent and Young Adult Health
May 2016

Stigmatizing Beliefs Regarding Street-Connected Children and Youth: Criminalized Not Criminal

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of California Berkeley–University of California San Francisco Joint Medical Program, University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, Berkeley
  • 2School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(5):419-420. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0161

The 1.8 billion children and youths 10 to 24 years of age living on our planet today outnumber the total global population during the time of the Great Depression. The health status and economic trajectory of this largest-ever cohort of children and youth will determine the health and economic well-being of tomorrow’s adult and elderly populations, and that of the next generation.1 Thus, if a subpopulation of these children and youth, uncounted as they are, can be specifically and sensitively identified as destined for a poor outcome, we have an opportunity to respond, to the benefit of us all. The millions of unstably housed, street-based, and homeless youth globally are such a subpopulation. Nevertheless, the needs of street-connected children and youth are dismissed or overlooked for multiple reasons, including widespread stigmatizing beliefs about them. These include the widely held belief that they are on the street because of their delinquency.

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