Category Archives: street kids

A Few Street Kids

Wikipedia defines “street children” this way:

Street children or street urchins are homeless children who live on the street – in particular, those that are not taken care of by parents or other adults. Street children live in abandoned buildings, containers, automobiles, parks, or on the street itself.

That is in contrast to children that are homeless that are living in shelters or taking refuge with friends or relatives.    Below are a few pictures of street kids taken by various photographers around this country who have posted them under a creative commons license.

Market Street, San Francisco

Photo complements of davitydave Photo taken on Market Street, San Francisco.  Creative Commons License   Find it Here

Haight Street San Francisco

Photo Complements of kristiewells Photo taken on Haight Street San Francisco.  Creative Commons License   Find it Here

kristiewells says this about the photo: “We gave them our leftovers from Pork Store Cafe. I asked if I could take their picture which they said was OK, but they were so happy to be eating, I didn’t want to disturb them to get a better photo. ”

Homeless in Austin Texas
Photo Courtesy of  dground Photo taken on Sixth Street in Austin Texas Creative Commons License  Find it Here

Homeless in Minnesota

Photo from The Epoch Times, Minnesota

They had this to say about the picture and runaway kids:

According to a recent statewide survey of homeless people in Minnesota, conducted by the Wilder Research Center, for most youths, going back to live with their parents is not a viable solution. Their homeless plight started as a result of their parents. Fearing their chemically dependent or physically or sexual abusive parents, many youths would rather endure the life on the streets than return home. Many have already lived in foster care, detention or treatment centers.

Dave Eha, a 21-year-old homeless youth for the last six months said, “For many out here, it isn’t like a choice. You would hear all the time how someone was molested or physically abused. Many of the kids are forced to become homeless or else live in an abusive situation.”

The Wilder Research report found that homeless kids were:

Five times more likely to have been treated for alcohol or drug problems, although homeless youths are half as likely to report current use of alcohol.

More than three times more likely to have been hit by a date or intimate partner.

Three times more likely to have been physically abused

For girls, 20 times more likely to have been pregnant; for boys 10 times more likely to have had a sexual relationship that resulted in pregnancy.

Youth of color are three to four times more prevalent among the homeless.

Come ON folks, these could have been your kids.

Find a way to help.

Oldtimer

How Homeless Youth Earn Money

HOW THEY EARN MONEY

This is an interesting study out of Canada.   It was aired as part of “The First Edition” by CBC News in 2004.  Despite it being 3 years old, I think the data has changed little over time.   I also think the data would also apply to homeless youth almost anywhere in the world.

 In 1999, the most comprehensive study about how street kids making their money was conducted by the Shout Clinic which offers health care to homeless youth. Among the findings:

· 36%   of street youth earn money by panhandling or squeegeeing
· 19%   do break and enters or sell drugs
· 18%   receive social assistance
· 17%   by have paid employment
· 10%   do sex trade work

Some find legitimate work: Homeless youth had worked at an average of 3.1 legitimate jobs in the previous 12 months mainly in general labour, painting, welding, as bike couriers, cooks, cashiers, telemarketing, in baby sitting and retail sales.

Most have worked in the sex trade: 31% – including men and women – reported engaging in either street prostitution, phone or Internet sex, or massage/stripping at least once in their lives. Agencies like Street Outreach Services (SOS) focus on helping street youth out of prostitution.

Background determines how youth earn money: On average, sex workers left home at a younger age, had been on the street the longest, were most likely to have grown up in at least one foster homes, had the lowest educational credentials and left home because of problems pertaining to both physical and sexual assault.

In contrast, those who did property crimes or sold drugs were predominately male, were likely to have grown up in Toronto and were least likely to have experienced physical or sexual assault at home.

Would they like to work? When asked if they would like to find paid employment, 83.4% of males and 87.8% of females said yes. This indicates that street youth are unhappy about making money the way they do and would like paid employment instead.

Asked more specifically about under what conditions they would find accept a job:

· 53.7%   said they would take any job if paid $20 an hour
· 35.5%   would do just about any job
· 51.8%   felt that any job was better than welfare
· 18.7%   felt they would rather take welfare rather than a job they didn’t like
· 18.%    said they would not mind being unemployed for awhile

Again, these results suggest a majority of street youth want a job, although they were not willing to accept any job offered.

When asked what was preventing them from getting jobs, reasons cited included:

· 45.2 %  no fixed address    
· 43.3%   lack of work experience 
· 44.5%   no phone     
· 40.2%   no money for transportation for job search    
· 34.7%   don’t have the right clothes or appearance   
· 21.3%   legal problems   
· 21.3%   lack of motivation  

· other problems which included waking up and keeping a schedule, health, and literacy problems.

Most young homeless people were optimistic they would find work, with 46.6% very hopeful, and 35.7% somewhat hopeful.

Las Vegas Homeless Youth Survey

More than 1,700 kids homeless in Vegas

The data for this post came from this news story:  Las Vegas Homeless Youth Survey

 A survey of homeless youth in Las Vegas in 2006 revealed that of the 1700 kids living in Vegas:

75-percent are between the ages of 15 and 17.
25-percent were born in Las Vegas.
66-percent have parents still living in the valley.

Runaways – One out of three homeless teens say they left home to escape physical, sexual or mental abuse. 

Throwaways – More than one out of five were kicked out by their parents

Gangs – More than a third are involved with gangs.

                                                                                                          

 Love, Pure Love

It is so very unfortunate that so many kids find the streets more hospitable than their homes.   It is a rough life out there and most kids don’t know what they are getting into.  Many do go back home, and too many are driven away again.   What they want is love, what they get is trouble.  They have a love well that is empty, and what they often find is what they left, someone digging that well deeper rather than filling it up.

Parents seldom recognize that a child might actually run away rather than just threaten.  

 I can tell you this:  when a child shows any emotional signs of distress or rebellion or becomes surly and possibly depressed, it is time to turn on the love.  Pure love, no comments, no criticism, no questions, no reaction to anything the child says other than love.  A big hug, a giant hug, a verbal commitment:  “I love you son.”  “I’m here for you son.” 

Meet them at the door with a hug, see them off with a hug, give no response to cutting remarks other than “I love you.”  

If your child begins to taunt you and you snap back in kind or threaten, then you are driving a wedge that will be hard to remove.   The only answer to taunts is love – nothing said other than “I love you son” or “I love you daughter”.   In less than two days, your child will come around.   Their first reaction is to stare, then to test, then to question, then to melt.  

Love, pure love is the answer.

More on this later.  I have a first person account for you.

Oldtimer

Click for all homeless youth articles

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Or here for everything

National Stats for Runaway Youth

The National Runaway Switchboard provides education and solution-focused interventions, offers non-sectarian, non-judgmental support, respects confidentiality, collaborates with volunteers, and responds to at-risk youth and their families 24 hours a day.    Call 1-800-RUNAWAY
National Runaway Switchboard http://www.nrscrisisline.org/
(Statistics reflect only actual crisis calls – nationwide)
Adult calls ….. 1038
Youth calls …..15126
Total calls ….. 16164
Youth Status at Time of Call

    Contemplating running away…..12%
    Youth in crisis ………………..32%
    *Runaway ………………..48%
    *Throwaway ………………..4%
    *Homeless ………………..4%
    **Youth on the street ….. 56%

Reported Age Of Caller

    under 12 …..1%
    12 ………. 2%
    13 ………. 6%
    14 ………. 9%
    15 ………. 15%
    16 ……….21%
    17 ……….23%
    18 ……….10%
    19 ……….. 6%
    20 ……….. 4%
    21 ………. 3%
    Youth previously run (yes) …. . 32%
    youth previously run (no) ………. 44%
    unknown ………………………………..24%

Problems Identified by Callers

    Family Dynamics ..29%
    Peer/Social ……………… 14%
    School/Education ……..10%
    Mental Health …………. .. 9%
    Physical Abuse ……… … 6%
    Youth Services ……….. . . 5%
    Alcohol/Drug Use …… …5%
    Economics ……………….. 4%
    Emotional/Verbal Abuse 4%
    Judicial System ………….3%
    Transportation ……………….3%
    Health ………………………… 3%
    Sexual Abuse/Assault …..2%
    Neglect ……………………………2%
    GLBTQ …………………………..1%

Whereabouts of Youth Who is the Subject

    Home ………………….29%
    Unknown to Caller ….. 23%
    Friend ……………………..17%
    Relative ……………………..6%
    Street/Pay Phone ………6%
    Shelter ……………………..3%
    Other …………………………3%
    Unknown to Liner ……..3%
    Greyhound ………………..2%
    Recent Acquaintance …2%
    Police/Detention …………2%
    School ………………………..2%
    Work ……………………………1%
    Pimp/Dealer ………………..1%

(Example) Calls from Georgia, local area codes follow
Area ………….calls
Code
404 GA ….. 1053 calls in 2006
678 GA ……..320
770 GA ……. 578

Click for All Homeless Youth Articles 

Common Myths About Youth Homelessness

Myth: IT’S FUN. Youth on the street may say it is completely their choice to be homeless. They may say they just want to hang with their friends. This is a good way to maintain dignity or avoid talking about personal issues. When trust is built with someone who is really able to provide help, the stories of sexual abuse, abandonment, and other trauma invariably come out. Life on the streets is anything but fun. It is a constant looking over your shoulder, guarding all your belongings from theft, looking for food, dry clothing and shelter, and continually feeling insults and nasty looks from passers by.

Myth: MOST ARE RUNAWAYS Many youth run away from home, and many runaway reports are filed with the police. Few of those runaways stay out for more than one or two nights and fewer still become homeless. Only 2-8% of youth served in homeless youth shelters have a runaway report filed on them.

Myth: YOUTH DON’T WANT SERVICES. Most youth do want help.  They want to have a normal life, go to school, start a career, develop relationships.  They just don’t know how with the limited resources available to them.  Many services are difficult or impossible to access without a parent’s signature, proper identification, medical insurance, etc. Others have long waiting lists.

Waiting lists are difficult to use when the youth are moving around each night. Many homeless youth are distrustful of adults and social services.  As much as they want a better life, they may be afraid to engage in services or cynical about the likelihood of getting real help. They have been let down a lot. But if trust can be slowly built, most do engage in services when they are available, and often do very well.

The above items were found on the Seattle Human Services Website.

Oldtimer’s Comment:  Click for all Homeless Youth articles

RECOGNIZING HOMELESS CHILDREN AND YOUTH COMMON CHARACTERISTICS

The following 55 characteristics of homeless children and youth help educators and service organizations recognize homeless children and youth.  Often they are in classrooms, including Sunday School, hungry, perhaps malnourished even, and always tired.   They probably have not acknowledged that they are homeless.  Often they are told not to.   These characteristics are clues that something is very wrong and needs looking into so that help can be given.   If any student or child exhibits more than a few of these characteristics, it could be because they are homeless, perhaps living out of cars or other inappropriate conditions.

Depression/Anxiety
Poor/Short attention span
Aggressive behavior
Withdrawn
Unwilling to socialize at recess
Anxiety late in the day
Lying about where the parents are or where they are living
Protective of parents/Covers for parents
Poor self-esteem
Developmental delays
Fear of abandonment
Disturbed relationships
Difficulty making transition
Difficulty trusting people
Old beyond years
School phobia (want to be with parent)
Need immediate gratification
Unwillingness to risk forming relations with classmates and teachers
Clinging behavior
Poor health/Nutrition
Skin rash
Respiratory problems
Increased vulnerability to colds and flu
Unattended dental needs/ Unattended medical needs
May lack immunization records
Hunger
Hordes food at snack time
Poor hygiene
Lack of shower facilities/Washers etc,.
Wears same clothes for several days
Inconsistent grooming-well groomed one day, poorly groomed the next day
Transportation/Attendance problems
Numerous absences
Does not participate in field trips
Does not participate in after-school activities
Does not attend school on days when students bring special treats
Parents do not attend parent-teacher conferences, open houses, etc.
Parents unreachable
Lack of continuity in education
Gaps in skill development
Mistaken diagnosis of abilities
Difficulty adjusting to new school
Many different schools in a short time span
Does not have personal records needed to enroll
Poor organizational skills
Poor ability to conceptualize
Lack of privacy/Personal space after school
Fatigue
Incomplete, missing homework (not place to do homework or keep supplies)
Withdrawn/Unable to complete special projects (no access to supplies)
Loss of books and other supplies on a regular basis
Refusing invitations from classmates
Concern for safety of belongs
Lack of basic school supplies
Inability to pay fees

The above list came from the Texas  State Compensatory Office

Oldtimer Comment:  Click here for all Homeless Youth articles.

Youth Homelessness Defined

Many states use the following, or very similar descriptions as guidelines to determine those situations in which a child or youth can be considered homeless:

A child or youth sleeps at night in a shelter for the homeless (including family shelters, runaway youth shelters, and domestic violence shelters);

A child or youth sleeps at night in the home of a friend or relative because the child or youth lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate residence;

A child or youth sleeps at night in a shelter awaiting institutionalization, adoption, foster care, or other placement;

Runaway chldren or children who are abandoned; or,

A child or youth sleeps at night in a car, tent, an abandoned building, or other place not ordinarily used as a sleeping accommodation for human beings.  Migratory children and unaccompanied youth (youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian) may be considered homeless if they meet the above definition.

Notice that educators must make a subjective decision about whether a child or youth lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate residence.  This requires that an educator must make a judgment based on the specific circumstances of a child or youth’s living situation.

Oldtimer’s comment:  Click for all the homeless youth articles

Note: this information is available on most school and state websites with slight variations.   The above was combined from three such websites.