Methods: Youth experiencing homelessness (ages 13-24; N=304) were recruited from three drop-in centers in Southern California, and were interviewed regarding their individual and social network characteristics. Controlling for youths’ sociodemographics and other life experiences, logistic regressions assessed associations between social norms regarding pregnancy, perceived by youth as held by specific social network member types (e.g., home-based peers, street-based peers, family members, shelter staff, and serious intimate partners, respectively), and youths’ pregnancy attitudes.
Results: Results pertaining to youths’ sociodemographics and lived experiences revealed that White youth were significantly less likely than their non-White peers to endorse pro-pregnancy attitudes (OR=0.51, p<.01). Youth who identified as “travelers” were significantly less likely than their non-transient peers to endorse pro-pregnancy attitudes (OR=0.56, p<.05). However, youth who were currently enrolled in school were significantly more likely to endorse pro-pregnancy attitudes than their peers who were not currently in school (OR=2.91, p<.01). With regard to social norms regarding pregnancy variables, multivariate results demonstrated that youth who perceived their street peers as overall more objecting to (versus encouraging of) them becoming pregnant or involved in a pregnancy were 51% less likely to endorse pro-pregnancy attitudes (OR=0.49, p<.01). Youth who perceived their serious partners as overall more objecting to (versus encouraging of) them becoming pregnant or involved in a pregnancy were 74% less likely to endorse pro-pregnancy attitudes (OR=0.26, p<.01).
Conclusions and Implications: Of particular interest are findings that consider typical characterizations of homeless youths’ connections to “pro-social” individuals. Pro-social network members are typically described as home-based peers, family members, and staff members. Research has often framed these individuals as the most optimal connections for homeless youth in terms of encouraging their engagement in healthy and preventive behaviors. Findings from the current study, however, suggest that there may also be positive influences derived from youths’ perceptions of their street-based peers’ and serious partners’ attitudes pertaining to them becoming pregnant or involved in pregnancy. Accordingly, there may be utility in further exploring peer-based and intimate partner/dyadic approaches to reproductive and sexual health interventions with youth experiencing homelessness, particularly as these relationships appear to be salient or perhaps directly influential to youths’ pregnancy attitude formation.