The Battle Against Youth Homelessness in AmericaJanuary 16, 2020
Homelessness amongst youth is an issue that doesn’t garner as much attention as it deserves. As our country and communities focus on solutions for the adult homeless community, our homeless youth present a completely different and unique set of challenges.
This article will outline the issues at hand with homeless youth, and examine how our society is partially to blame.
How Many Homeless Youths Are There?
The National Coalition to End Homelessness estimates that there are over 1 million homeless youth in the United States that have either ran away from home, or been kicked out by family members or guardians. There is also, unsurprisingly, a very high rate of depression among homeless youth.
This is a shockingly high number that demands explanation and action. But first, it’s crucial to examine the reasons behind this startling statistic.
What are the Causes?
75% of homeless or runaway youth have dropped out or will drop out of school. The common theme here being that troubles at home or in the community are very much a part of the bigger picture of youth homelessness.
Another statistic that can help us draw a conclusion also comes from the National Coalition, and it’s that 20% to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. This points to issues of acceptance in our society of members of the LGBTQ, leading young people down a difficult, completely self-reliant path.
Trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse, also play a signficant role in forcing children and teenagers to runaway from home, and ultimately end up homeless.
What’s Being Done to Solve the Problem?
Chief among potential solutions is ensuring education and employment opportunities for youth and young adults. Gaining an education is not only crucial in developing cognitive and social skills, but also in helping youth feel a sense of excitement and possibility regarding their future.
Another way communities are attempting to help support young people and struggling families is by offering social-services that include things like housing support, meal vouchers, and more. These types of services can take some of the pressure off of families, and ideally keep a child in school, ensuring they focus on their education.
As cliche as it may sound, the youth represent the future of our country, and it’s up to all of us to ensure they have every opportunity afforded to them to succeed.