PhD Graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Patricia Erickson on Coping Strategies of Street-Involved Youth

PhD graduate Kat Kolar and Professor Patricia Erickson, in collaboration with Donna Stewart (University Health Network), published an article in the Journal of Youth Studies. The article examines lived experience, mental health, and coping strategies among “street-involved youths.”

Kat Kolar obtained her PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. Her dissertation is titled Differentiating the Drug Normalization Framework: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Substance Use among Undergraduate Students in Canada. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at UBC researching the social integration of substance use and health inequities impacting people who use illicit drugs.Patricia Erickson is a retired senior scientist at CAMH and a Professor (status-only) in the Department of Sociology and the Centre for Crime and Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include illicit drug use and drug policy; youth, violence, mental health and addictions.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through ResearchGate here.

Kolar, Kat, Patricia Gail Erickson, and Donna Stewart. 2012. “Coping Strategies of Street-Involved Youth: Exploring Contexts of Resilience.” Journal of Youth Studies, 15(6):744-760.

Literature on how street-involved youth (SIY) cope with risky environments remains very limited. This exploratory study investigates SIY’s coping strategies, employing the ‘contexts of resilience’ framework (where resilience is understood as a process that changes over time and by environment) to situate an inductive thematic analysis of interviews with 10 current and former SIY. Three themes are explored: social distancing; experiences of violence; and self-harm and suicidality. The first two themes illustrate the double-edged nature of some coping strategies. While social distancing could contribute to isolation from social supports and violent self-defense to retaliatory harm, without alternative resources to prevent victimization these strategies must be acknowledged as reasoned responses to the risks associated with a violent milieu. Strategies assumed to be maladaptive among more normative youth may be among the limited resources available for SIY to utilize in attempts to make positive changes in their lives. The final theme explores self-harm and suicidality as indicative of social and structural needs and shows how in the SIY context such behaviors may not signify an outcome of non-resilience. The adaptation of assessments of coping strategies to be congruent with evaluative contexts should be applied to resilience research addressing other marginalized populations.

Read the full article here.