Teen Homelessness: The Heartbreaking Reality You Can’t Ignore
I want you to know right up front, this post is about something close to our hearts.
This post is not about the latest celebrity gossip. It is not about the latest trend.
It’s about teen homelessness.
#TeenHomelessness is not trending.
It isn’t glamorous.
It’s not something people want to talk about it.
But we should be.
This may be an uncomfortable topic, but it’s one that needs discussing.
“If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?”
The Grim Reality is:
• Out of the approximated 1.7 million homeless youth, 39% are under 18 years old.
• It is estimated that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT
• About 75% use drugs or alcohol
– They use drugs and alcohol to escape their situation, to self-medicate.
• 1 in 7 young people between the ages 10-18 will run away.
• Every year 5, 000 homeless teens die while on the street
• Problems at home
Many youth run away because of hard times at home with their parents or family.
– There can be physical or sexual abuse.
– They or a family member has a mental health disorder.
– They or a family member has an alcohol or drug addiction.
– Neglect: Emotional or physical
Teens can be thrown out of their house
– Parents feel the teen is disrespectful or does not follow rules.
– The parent does not agree with the teens choices with dating and sex.
– The parents cannot afford to take care of them anymore.
• Transitioning from foster care
It is often extremely difficult for teens in foster care. When they turn 18, they age out of the foster care system. They often have limited resources and nowhere to go. Without housing or money, many end up on the streets.
• Family money problems
Due to financial problems, some families become homeless. The teens can find themselves separated from their families. It’s usually due to lack of room or policies at shelters.
Once a teen becomes homeless, for any reason, it is much harder for them to get off the streets. Not only are there limited resources, the teens are usually unaware of what those resources are. They don’t know where to turn for help. That is why many turn to drugs, alcohol or prostitution. They find any means to survive or mask the pain of living on the street.
What Can We Do:
• Talk about it
Get the conversations started. Someone you talk to may have a resource or an idea. Be the voice for them. Make this a topic we are not afraid to discuss.
• Donate items
Call your local shelter or food pantry. They can give a list of what they need.
Some ideas are Jeans, shirts, socks, shoes, and food. Anything you think you would need, they need. Buy and extra can of food when you shop or clean out your closet (they will take clothes you don’t wear anymore).
They’re not looking for the latest trend; they just want items to help them survive.
• Take time to think about it
It’s probably hard to imagine being homeless if you haven’t experienced it. We can take simple things for granted, like having a warm, cozy bed to sleep in. Having food to eat every day. Having clothes to wear. If you have a home, be thankful for that and think about those who don’t.
• Give respect and kindness
If you meet someone who is homeless, remember homelessness in not who they are. It is just the situation they are in. Give them a smile and a kind word.
• Find ways to help in your community
We have signed up at DOSOMETHING.ORG. Their site is a great place for teens and young adults to get involved. We agreed to put flyers up around our city. The flyers have the number to the 24-hour-crisis line (1-800 – RUNAWAY). The idea is to post the flyers everywhere so a teen in need can easily find help.
• Share this post
Let’s bring light to this problem. Imagine if every person you share this post with buys and donates a can of food or a pair of socks. We will be donating an item of clothing for every share of this post. For every like or comment we will be donating a canned good to a shelter. So start clicking.
I cannot imagine what these teens and young adults go through. Every teen out there on the street is a person wanting to be loved and accepted. Wanting someone to care enough. They want to know they matter. They want the same things we all do.
You do matter. You are loved. You are not forgotten.
They deserve those things. They should be worrying about homework, dating, what movie to go see. Not about where to get their next meal, or if they will be warm enough tonight.
“Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity”
24-hour crisis line for anyone, any age,
in all situations and circumstances.
Free, confidential, and 100% anonymous
1-800-RUNAWAY / 1-800-786/2929
– NBL V – – ttfn G –