Drawing on the author’s own research, this chapter explores the multiple factors that influence street youth in Canada to become involved in illegal activities. The chapter looks at how background factors, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse, have a long term impact on street youth’s actions while on the street, and how homelessness and street life itself contribute to criminal conduct, not only as a means of survival, but to help cope with an environment that is fraught with risk and danger. Further, this chapter examines how poverty, as well as street youth’s perceptions of their poverty, drives criminal activity. Finally, the chapter explores how peers and street culture shape and influence criminal actions and outlines the various social-psychological characteristics associated with illegal activities.
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