Homelessness in Teens
Youth Homelessness is defined as having no fixed place to sleep at night. This includes people staying in motels until their money runs out, those staying with friends, those staying in shelters, and those sleeping inside or out whatever space they can find to protect themselves. The number of homeless people has been growing and it has become a serious problem in our society. Every night in Canada there are thousands of people living on the streets. This type of behaviour is considered deviant because it does not reflect the norms and values of our society. In many cases the homeless people in our country are treated as total outcasts.
When considering the problem of homelessness, we may think of the stereotypical skid row bums, drug addicts, or perhaps the mentally ill living on the sidewalks begging for change from passerby. All people that are homeless do not live on the streets. Homeless people can be someone who stays with a friend or a family member, someone living in overcrowded conditions, someone living in poor conditions that may affect their health, someone living away from their loved ones because of certain conditions. Many of these people are youth who lacks proper shelter. Homelessness among young people is a major social concern in the United States. Youth homelessness is not a new phenomenon and it has become more and more severe over the years. We ask what youth homelessness is. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, “homeless youth are individuals under the age of eighteen who lack parental, foster, or institutional care”. Homeless youth includes runaways, throwaways, and street youth. They are also referred to as “unaccompanied” youth. Â Homelessness for youth has been an ongoing issue and is at greater risk due to the greater vulnerability due to the background factors related with their life style. Homeless youth can be found anywhere throughout the U.S. and most of these youth are age 18 or below. Many of these homeless youth comes from low-income communities or from dysfunctional families. Although the prevalence of youth homelessness is difficult to measure, researchers estimate that about 5 to 7.7 percent of youth- about 1 million to 1.6 million youth, under the age of 18 experience homelessness each year. As an estimated report by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in the US Department of Justice, there are about 1,682,900 homeless and runaway youth. Â Children and youth identified as homeless by the Department of Education in FY2000, only 35% lived in shelters; 34% lived doubled-up with family or friends, and 23% lived in motels and other locations. These children and youth may not immediately be recognized as homeless and are sometimes denied access to shelter or the protections and services of the McKinney-Vento Act. Youth that are homeless can become this way for a variety of reasons. A dysfunctional family can be one of many reasons why these youth would leave their home. The youths become homeless due to some disruptions of their families caused by divorce. If the families break up, the youths are forced to search for new places to live and this becomes very difficult for them. They may lack suitable places to go or stay as they may lack the required funds.
Youth exiting the foster care and juvenile penal system aren’t effectively linked to services to prevent homelessness. “Surveys of service providers and homeless populations suggest that young people exiting foster care have difficulty securing stable housing,” (Fowler, Toro, & Miles, pg. 1453, 2009). Homelessness is often frowned upon and observed as an individual issue; however, this is the society’s issue, affecting everyone. Research has shown that joining together with a common goal in mind can produce promising results, so why not teen homelessness? “Through strategic collaborations between the nonprofit, private, and public sectors, it is possible to develop more innovative approaches to housing homeless youth,” (Van Leeuwen, pg. 466, 2003). Envisioned for this work, the writer will provide evidence from empirical articles on teen homeless and its effects as they directly impact our country. Introduction Teen homelessness happens to affect all people of different nations, ages, states, and cultures. Teen homelessness and homelessness can be defined in several different ways. The homeless and runaway act of 1974 (RHYA) described homeless youth as one who is no older than 21 and is unaccompanied by a family member or caregiver. According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) a youth is considered homeless by way of four classifications. “Persons and relatives who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; persons and relatives who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence; unaccompanied youth and families with youth who are defined as homeless under other federal statutes; and youth and families who are fleeing, or are attempting to flee, domestic violence”. Research has shown that homelessness is often viewed as an individual problem rather than a community issue. Homeless youth have been referred to by many names throwaway youth, runaway youth, street youth and systems youth. There are many origins or causes of teen homelessness. The chief issues among homeless youth are financial adversity and household clash. Abuse also plays a major role in teen homelessness substance abuse, verbal abuse and physical abuse. Some youth become homeless due to pregnancy, sexual orientation, mental illness and neglect. Others are aging out of foster care and juvenile corrections facilities. The effects of teen homelessness are many ranging from untreated physical and mental health to drug and alcohol dependence. Many youth also fall victim to the prison system and even death due to criminal behavior as a means of survival. During my research a study was conducted on youth entering and exiting the foster care system. Research has shown that the very systems put into place to ensure child safety and reduce outcomes such as poverty have place more youth at risk “Homelessness and its associated psychosocial effects continue to plague American urban centers.
Ultimately, the consequences faced by youth experiencing homelessness are vast and require coordination across the education, child welfare, juvenile justice, health and human services systems. Runaway and homeless youth are vulnerable to multiple threats, including not having their basic food and shelter needs met, untreated mental health disorders, substance use, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infection, sexual exploitation (including survival sex to meet basic needs), physical victimization and suicide. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in three teens on the street will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home and the American Academy of Pediatrics finds suicide is the leading cause of death among unaccompanied youth. Also, youth who are homeless often experience a significant disruption in their education due to the transient nature of homelessness.
van Leeuwen, J. (2004). Reaching the Hard to Reach: Innovative Housing for Homeless Youth Through Strategic Partnerships. Child Welfare, 83(5), 453-468.
Freeman, R., Abel, D., Cowper-Smith, M., & Stein, L. (2004). Reconnecting Children With Absent Parents. Family Court Review, 42(3), 439-459.
Liu, S. H., & Heiland, F. (2012). Should We Get Married? The Effect of Parents’ Marriage on out-of-wedlock children. Economic Inquiry, 50(1), 17-38. doi:10.1111/j.1465-7295.2010.00248.x
Rhule-Louie, D., Bowen, S., Baer, J., & Peterson, P. (2008). Substance Use and Health and Safety among Homeless Youth. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 17(3), 306-319.