Understanding Health Risks and Promoting Resilience in Male Youth with Sexual Violence Experience


In 2015, SARAVYC joined a team of researchers seeking to increase health knowledge about and improve services for male youth who have experienced sexual violence. The CIHR funded grant, led by Principal Investigator Dr. Christine Wekerle of McMaster University, focuses on Aboriginal youth health (particularly mental health resilience) as well as the engagement of youths in violence prevention. The research targets health risk behaviors, mediators of impairment, and resilience for health promotion.

Lead by Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, SARAVYC’s role will be to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the contexts, exploitation experiences, and related health challenges of sexually exploited homeless and street-involved boys, and do they differ from those of sexually exploited homeless and street-involved girls?
  2. What resilience factors are linked to lower odds of health problems among sexually exploited runaway and street-involved boys? What resilience factors are linked to lower odds of health problems among boys who are in school?
  3. How might we need to adapt an existing effective intervention among sexually exploited girls for it to be feasible and effective for sexually exploited boys to promote resilience and health risks?

In partnership with the McCreary Centre Society, Dr. Saewyc and SARAVYC conducted a 12-city survey of street-involved and homeless youth age 12-19, using the same participatory methods from 2006 and 2000. We are using multivariate modelling, primarily logistic regression and probability profiling, to identify how combinations of risk and protective factors influence the probability of health problems, such as suicide or self-harm, problem substance use and risky sexual behaviours. We are examining health and risks for sub-groups of boys, such as gay and bisexual boys, who are at higher risk for sexual abuse than heterosexual peers. These patterns will be used to identify promising avenues for interventions.


Principal Investigator: Dr. Christine Wekerle

Co-Investigators: Dr. Christine Wekerle, Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, Dr. Michael Boyle, Dr. Martine Hébert, Harriet L. MacMillan, Dr. Christopher John Mushquash, Dr. Sherry H. Stewart, and Dr. Michael Ungar

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Grant on Boys and Men’s Health (Full Proposal), “Understanding health risks and promoting resilience in male youth with sexual violence experience”, 2014-2019