Category Archives: throwaway

“Why Would Someone Chose Homeless” – Homeless 17 Year Old Girl

Meet “Alice”, Homeless Girl now 17 in Canada

Her words (she went homeless before 16) – She is older than her days:

“Why would someone choose to be transient or homeless? The world is a vast, ruined empire- It is void of any true meaning with all our responsibilities being entirely superficial, and we have created imaginary borders and priced things that belong to no one such as our land. The surrounding materialism weighs us down, makes us weary: It is a distraction that is malignant.

“Being homeless is an entirely separate dimension from this society, an alternate community- There is a completely different set of rules, way of life, and sense of normality. Once you have adjusted to homelessness, it can be very difficult to turn around and work your way back into the ‘Real World’; it becomes frustrating and lonely when you have to abide by a new social code and people are intolerant of your mannerisms.

“It’s like walking into a new country where you know nothing of the current customs, are baffled by people’s beliefs and gestures, and are confused by the tongue spoken. At a time, you just want to break free and separate yourself: You want to listen to your heart, and not found yourself on stability or comfort.

“There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you walk away from your home with nothing but what’s in your pockets, and with no intention of returning.

“When homeless or transient, especially when you’re on drugs, life becomes a journey rather than an endless cycle. You lose your sense of time, not knowing the date and having only a vague idea of what stage of day it is; you spend your money on your present needs and desires rather than on future possibilities. When you’re high, it’s all about the small things in life; there’s no interest in the future and no care for the bigger picture. No one and nothing, yet everyone and everything, is cool. You’re content with no yearning desires. Life is all about warm, sunny afternoons on the cliff admiring the view and soaking in the calm, altogether uninhibited, and liberated on crack rocks- Free to speak your mind with no prejudices, free to be with no boundaries.

“However, I would support (the assertion) that children don’t become homeless merely because they dislike school or their family rules; rather, I think there is a much larger picture. Any kind of sufferance can be deepened when you love and care for the person hurting you; fear and confusion in childhood can make a claustrophobic teenager; and boredom can result in frustration and anxiety.

“Life on the streets is without any doubt a constant struggle and the average youngster would return home to comfort rather than hold out on the street if he didn’t have a strong and viable reason. His home and his life would have to represent a lot of pain and anger to keep him away for long; and he would have to have deep-rooted feelings of hatred and fear of the system to keep him there.

“Children who have been abused and neglected, then let down by their social workers and teachers, as well as nurses and police officers; children who have been drained through years of needless counselling then tossed from hospital to hospital like a nun; children who were kept isolated, then were physically and emotionally hurt when they attempted to connect.”

The above is a copy of a post by “Alice” which is not even her real screen name, but she is a real homeless person, trying to tell us a little about what it is like.   It may give you at least a little insight into the thinking of a young homeless girl. 

There are places to call, such as the National Runaway Switchboard or 2-1-1 anywhere in the country.   The link to the NRS is in the right column.  The idea is to get these youngsters help before they run away or get thrown away.   If your child is at risk or harboring a friend that would be on the streets without your help, get professionals involved… NOW.

Kids are out there too…

Do you hear a cry for help?

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Oldtimer

Im a 16 year old run away

Im a 16 year old run away

Giff of Runaway SwitchboardThis is the text of a message to the National Runaway Switchboard. They have a switchboard at Call 1-800-RUNAWAY. It happened on Jan 12, 2007. Find this cry for help here:

Im a 16 year old run away.
Its been exactly a week since ive been home. I ran away because i had so much abuse going on. The physical abuse had stopped about a year ago but the mental abuse is what kills me inside. Here is the background story in nutshell…about 5 years ago my parents got a divorce. It turned out that the dad i knew my entire life wasnt my dad. My mom made me completely lose contact with them.

About a year later my now step dad was introduced to us. The moment i met him i didnt like him. We didnt get along and eventually we hated each other. He began to hit me and when i was 14 years old he left me my first mark. It was about five inches long and an inch and a half wide on the back of my left leg. He got me with the belt becuase he had thought i was rollerblading through the house.

From there he just never stopped with the hitting and pushing. I called CPS atleast 6 times but none of them were taken seriously. We just recently moved and he had stopped hitting me but moved on to hurting me mentally, which affects me so much more. Im constantly being blamed for everything that happens: its my fault that the family argues, its my fault that everything is wrong, its my fault that the family isnt perfect etc.. I also get told that im so disrespectful, i dont give back to the family, im useless, that life would be better without me, they cant wait until im 18 to move out, im soooo close to getting kicked out, and just basically saying im a no body and they are better off without me.

But the facts are: im a strait A student, im always overachieving at everything i do, and im probably the most giving person in my family. Im getting into trouble for little things and punished to the maximum. I get into trouble for leaving water spots in the sink, not having the vacuum marks on the floor, or fingerprints on the mirrors when im cleaning. The consequences are horrible. I get my posters ripped down, my ipod, cellphone, tv, stereo, and everything taken away. I think its just cruel and unusual punishments…right?

Well, the past couple of months i had started to doubt myself: “What if i am useless?”, “What is my purpose in this family, in this world?” I completely stopped doing my school work, i ditched classes, something i would NEVER do!!! Things got so bad that i started having this weird crying attacks every night. I got tired of cutting myself so i started to burn my hands. They are so messed up and im scarred for life. I ran away becuase i had gotten scared of my step dad. I was doing laundry but didnt have time to finish in time for work so some clean clothes were left unfolded on my bed.

My phone started to get blown up with texts saying that that day was my last day working, my step dad was coming to get me from work just to fold my clothes, and to be prepared when i had got home. I had gone home, but this time EVERYTHING was out of my room: TV, stereo, posters, and my good stuff and i was left with nothing but my bed, a pillow, a blanket, and my dresser. I didnt have anymore diaries, jewelery, little things that teenagers have…it was all thrown away!!!

I didnt know what was ganna happen the next day when my step dad would wake up. I was crying so bad. I took my little sisters phone and ran to the back yard and called my friend. I told her everything and she told me she would get me. I ran away in my pjs and slippers. Ive been jumping around to different houses. I miss my family and friends and i want to be back home.

Also, I want to file for emancipation but i LOVE LOVE LOVE my family, just not my step dad…he ruined my life!!! I gave everything because im so confused about what to do. Do i go home??? Do i contact my family??? Do i need to get emancipated??? What do i do??? Please help me!!!!

Kids are out there too…

Do you hear that cry for help?

Check out the Runaway Switchboard.  There is a link in the blogroll to the right and at the beginning of this post.  If you know of a troubled teen, get help immediately.

Click for all Homeless Youth Articles

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Or go to the “Front Page” link above the banner for all posts

Thank you for caring,

Oldtimer

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

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.

scared to say anything and about to give up

scared to say anything and about to give up

Oldtimer’s note:  This was copied without permission from the NRS.  I plan to ask, but I’m hoping the end justifies the means.   Meantime, visit their site.  There are a lot of links on this site in my previous post in case you find this article standing alone somewhere.

Find this NPR call for help on this bulletin board:  

I’m 12 years old and live with my step dad and my mom. My step dad hits me and does other things to me. I had told my mom and all she tells me is that its my fault for i should behave and he wouldn’t do that.I’m scared to sleep at night cause he comes in my room. thought about running away and I’m thinking about suicide actually I’m not thinking I’m planning it. I just can’t handle this anymore. I know or actually i feel its my fault so maybe i should get rid of the problem and that problem is me. I could really use some help from you people responding to me. thank you for listening to me

Reply from NRS

Thank you for contacting the National Runaway Switchboard. It sounds like a really difficult situation for you at home right now. There are several agencies out there willing and wanting to help youth in your position. 1)RAINN (RAPE ABUSE INSEST NATIONAL NETWORK) 1-800-656-4673 2) NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE 1-800-273-TALK. Both of these hotlines are 24 hours a day, just like ours at 1-800-RUNAWAY. We are ALWAYS here to listen, not blame or judge just listen. If there is ever a time that you want to talk please feel free to call one of the hotlines. Best Wishes

Scared Answers:

thank you i had called and now i’m in a safe place. i thank you for those numbers. but is it normal to still be scared about everything still?

Oldtimer’s comment:  Click for All the Homeless Youth articles

National Runaway Switchboard

Organization Overview

Runaway Switchboard gifThe National Runaway Switchboard, established in 1971, serves as the federally-designated national communication system for homeless and runaway youth.  Recognized as the oldest hotline of its kind in the world, NRS, with the support of more than 150 volunteers, has handled more than three million calls in its 35-year history and handles an average of 100,000 calls annually.  NRS provides crisis intervention, referrals to local resources, and education and prevention services to youth, families and community members throughout the country 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Over 10,000 youth have been reunited with their families through NRS’ Home Free program done in collaboration with Greyhound Lines, Inc.  The NRS crisis hotline is 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786 -2929) .

You can read transcripts of calls from runaways and potential runaways (names and exact locations hidden for privacy) and the responses from NPR and others on their bulletin board site.  You can also download promotional materials (posters and booklets) in English and Spanish and articles and newsletters, and other information.     

I will be publishing more on/from this site in the near future.  They provide an invaluable service.  If you look through the bulletin board and listen to the cries for help. you will understand more of what kids are going through and how what looks like small problems often become big and life changing issues. 

Oldtimer’s Comment:  Click for all Homeless Youth Articles

Understanding And Preventing Teenage Runaways

In looking across the web for advice on troubled teens, I found this useful article.  It has good advice!    Only the opening paragraph and the topics are reproduced here, but there is a link at the bottom for the entire article.

One of the greatest fears that parents can experience comes when they discover that their child is missing or has run away. Parents will experience a range of emotions. The stress of the situation and the different ways in which parents, family, friends and police respond can reach crisis proportions and create further crisis within a family.

The Difference Between a Runaway Child and a Missing Child

Motivations of a Runaway

Warning Signs of a Potential Runaway.

Communication That Helps Prevent Runaways

Steps You Can Take That Will Help Reduce the Risk of a Runaway

Note: this is a long and well written article that may be able to help you understand and help your troubled teen.   I am in no way recommending this site other than for you to read the information in this article.  Although I find no fault with the underlying site, I have no way of determining its credibility.   You are missing the greater part of the above article  unless you Click Here .  

Oldtimer’s comment:  Click for All the Homeless Youth articles

The Top 10 Reasons Why Kids Have Run Away

Rebecca's CommunityThis list was prepared by Dominic Mapstone, founder of Rebecca’s Community, which provides shelter and services for homeless and runaway youth in Sydney Austrailia.    He also founded the International Homeless Forum.The Rebecca’s Community Website is hereYou can find this list here:You can find the homeless forum here: (Dominic’s audience is kids who come to Rebecca’s Community website  for information)
The Top 10 reasons why other kids have run away are:

1. Kicked out – Mostly the reason why kids leave home isn’t because they ‘runaway,’ it is because they get kicked out.
2. Sexual Abuse – someone in your house is made to do sexual things, maybe you.
3. Violence – someone in your house gets hurt a lot, maybe you.
4. Alcohol or Drugs – someone in your house drinks alcohol lots or uses drugs to get high.
5. Verbal Abuse – people yell or scream at you all the time.
6. Neglect – you don’t get basic stuff other kids do, like food or it may be as if you aren’t even there and no one cares about you.
7. Crime – someone in your house does crime like stealing from people or beating them up.
8. Stress – someone is always on your case putting pressure on you to do something all the time like cleaning up or doing your homework.
9. School – you get bullied at school and can’t put up with it anymore or you get in really big trouble at school and just can’t go home because of what might happen when your parents find out.
10. Someone is Gone – this could be because they died, or your parents get divorced or separated. It also could be an older brother or sister moved out of home.

If you know of an at-risk kid or a runaway kid, try to point him/her to the Rebecca’s Community website (link above) or the Runaway Switchboard or call the switchboard at 1 800 RUNAWAY.  (Rebecca’s Community and Runaway Switchboard are unrelated organizaitons).

Oldtimer’s comment:  Click for All the Homeless Youth articles

Homelessness Among Children and Youth – Basic Facts

Homeless Baby Activity CenterDid you know that children make up 39% of the homeless population and 42% of these children are under 5 years of age?   (Note the baby activity center in the homeless camp picture ).  Children under about 12-14 are most often part of a homeless family, usually with only one parent present.   There have been instances of children as young as 9 living on the streets without any relative present, but thankfully,  below about 13, it is rare.  

According to state departments of education across the country, 35% of homeless children lived in shelters, 34% were in group situations with family or friends, and 23% were in motels or other places in 2000. 

Homeless children and youth face a number of problems.  These include developmental problems, abuse and neglect, lack of effective education,  among others.     The National Law Center created a report in June 2006 summarizing basic facts about our homeless youngsters.  

The data mentioned here can be found in its entirity here (5 pages plus 4 pages of citations): 

Developmental Problems

Lack of a stable living situation can be mentally and physically harmful to children and youth.

Homeless infants are four times more likely to require special care at birth than other infants.   Toddlers who are homeless usually develop at a slower pace than those who have stable homes.   Homeless children are twice as likely to have a learning disability and are three times more likely than other children to have emotional or behavioral problems

33% of runaway youth state it was because of sexual abuse, while 50% report it was due to physical abuse.   Sheltered homeless children have twice as many ear infections, five times more gastrointestinal problems, six times as many speech problems, and four times as many have asthma.  

 Abuse and Neglect

25% of the adult homeless population report having experienced physical and/or sexual abuse as a child by someone with whom they lived.   Homeless children are physically abused at twice the rate of other children.  

33% of the adult homeless population report running away from home as children and  27% report living in foster care or in a group home.    22% of the homeless population report being forced to leave home.

21% of the adult homeless population experience homelessness during childhood.  Homeless children are three times as likely to have been sexually abused as other children.

Lack of Education Perpetuates Homelessness

    38% of adult homeless individuals do not have a high school degree by age 18 and 53% report having dropped out of either elementary, middle, or high school for an indefinite period of time.   18% of the homeless population say they were expelled from school and only 62% of the homeless population have a high school diploma.

Homeless Youth – Some Random Facts That May Scare You

Some random facts that may scare you:

Estimates are that one in seven youths will leave home by the age of 18 (National Runaway Switchboard, 2001).

 “Every year, assault, illness, and suicide claim the lives of approximately 5,000 runaway and homeless youth” (The National Runaway Switchboard, 2001, p. 2). 

 Young people on the streets find it very difficult to meet their basic needs, so they may also resort to survival sex to provide for themselves. 

 According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, more than half of all runaways are girls (Hammer, et al., 2002). Makes you want to cry

The National Network for Youth (2003) reports that most homeless youth living on the streets are boys. Boys are more likely to be kicked out and girls more likely to run away, possibly because boys are more likely to engage in deviant behaviors that cause parents to kick them out and girls are more likely to experience sexual abuse that prompts them to run away.

The same abuse continues on the streets as girls are more likely to be raped and boys are more likely to be physically assaulted (Cauce, et al., 2000; MacLean, Embry,& Cauce, 1999).

Ensign and Bell (2004) found the average length of homelessness differed significantly according to whether the youth lived in a shelter or on the streets. For those living in shelters, the average length of homelessness was four months (range one to nine months), but the average length for those on the streets was three years (range one month to eight years).

One in eight youth under 18 will leave home and become a street person in need of services (Raleigh-DuRoff, 2004), and 40 percent do not return home

Do you have children or grandchildren or neighbors with children at risk?   Do something about it before it is too late.  Get help now.

I hope the picture above makes you want to cry.  

Oldtimer’s comment:  Click for All the Homeless Youth articles

How many of the Homeless are Youth?

How many of the Homeless are Youth?

This is taken from a 30 page report by Jan Moore, Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth ,  that I hope you will take the time to read.

It is one of the ones I posted earlier, but perhaps I can summarize it for you.

The number of youngsters in the U.S. that go homeless at some time during a year is between 1.3 million and 2.8 million, depending on whether you are just counting kids that go off unaccompanied and living on the streets, or if you also include kids that are part of homeless families.

That is a lot folks. Too many.   The number of runaway children is between 1 and 1.3 million children each year.  The combined number of runaway/throwaway children is about 1.7 million.  Throwaway children are those forced out of their homes in anger or apathy – they either don’t want them home, or don’t care if they never come back.   Yeah, that’s right.  As much as you and I love our children, there are far too many parents that just don’t care or are even hostile to their kids, maybe even sexually or physically abuse them.

We aren’t talking some third world country here where there are no parents alive to take care of them.  We are talking about our own Unites States.   We have no excuse.

Why do kids go homeless?

  • Family Problems. Family conflict is central for youth because they are usually financially, emotionally, and legally dependent on their families.
  • Economic Problems. For some youth, economic problems may lead to homelessness. There is a high incidence of parental unemployment.
  • Residential instability is another factor contributing to the homelessness of youths. (includes doubled up conditions, foster care or treatment facilities.)
  • Other influences such as difficulties with school, teachers, peers, delinquency, pregnancy or parenthood, sexual orientation, and behavioral or mental health issues.

Oldtimer’s comment:  Click for All the Homeless Youth articles