Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Cheryl Buehler


This study used both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore the sense of safety held by adolescent males in out-of-home care. The qualitative study used a phenomenological approach to come to understand their perception of their sense of safety, especially as it was related to moving multiple times between placements. Twelve adolescent males between the ages of 13 and 18 years were interviewed and asked how they experienced moving between placements and what made them feel safe or unsafe in the process. Their responses were categorized into major themes that included: relating to caregivers, gaining information, adapting, behavior of other youth, family issues, and types of moves. Implications for practice are discussed related to the youths' responses. The quantitative portion of the study consisted of establishing the reliability and validity of the Sense of Safety Scale (SOSS), which was developed by the researcher. This scale, designed to assess the physical and psychoemotional sense of safety of youth in out-of-home care, was administered to 90 adolescent males, between the ages of 12 and 18 years, who were in various levels of foster care placement, with the majority being in residential care. The SOSS was found to have a high internal consistency with this sample. It also was found to have significant correlations with established scales that measured self-esteem, locus of control, and internalizing problem behavior, thus establishing construct validity.

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