Purpose: To examine effects of the Runaway Intervention Program (RIP), a strengths-based home visiting, case management, and group support program for sexually assaulted or exploited young runaway girls; staffed by advanced-practice nurses, RIP aims to restore healthy developmental trajectories by reestablishing protective factors, reducing trauma responses, and lowering risk behaviors that are common sequelae of sexual violence.
Methods: Quasi-experimental study of RIP girls (N = 68) ages 12 to 15 (mean, 13.75 years), assessed at baseline, 6 and 12 months for changes in family and school connectedness, other adult caring, self-esteem, emotional distress, suicidality, recent substance use, plus risky sexual behaviors. Responses at each time were also compared to nonabused and abused urban ninth-grade girls (mean age, 14.64, N = 12,775) from the 2004 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS). Analyses used paired t-tests, McNemars test, Wilcoxon sign-rank, chi-square, and Pearson’s correlations.
Results: At entry, RIP girls were most like sexually abused MSS peers, with lower levels of protective factors and higher levels of distress and risk behaviors than nonabused MSS girls (p < .05 to p < .01). However, they saw significant improvements by 6 and 12 months, such that all measures of protective factors, positive development, distress, and risk behaviors more closely resembled nonabused MSS girls by 12 months. Of equal note, RIP girls with the greatest emotional distress, the lowest levels of connectedness, and lowest self-esteem at baseline demonstrated the greatest improvement (all p < .001).
Conclusions: This appears to be a promising intervention for restoring sexually abused runaway girls to a healthy developmental trajectory.
Saewyc E & Edinburgh L. (2010). Restoring healthy developmental trajectories for sexually-exploited young runaways: Fostering protective factors and reducing risk behaviours. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46, 180-188. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.06.010