Tag Archives: children

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

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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.

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

Homeless Youth and Drugs – In a Street Kid’s Own Words

To zone in on the problem, let me introduce you to a 17 year old girl, currently hom

This is a real person posting on a homeless forum. She lives in Australia. I suspect other than the street name for paint sniffing (“chromers”), the problem is the same anywhere in the US.   I’ve changed her screen name to protect her privacy even more.

“Sally” is discussing homelessness with other homeless people.

Quote:

“On the streets drugs are all around you, always being offered to you, people always walkin around smashed.  I’d like to see anyone live on the streets and not take drugs at some point, I really do think that’s impossible.  

Hey, I don’t like drugs, but sometimes it’s really hard not to take them.  Most people on the streets have some degree of depression, and sometimes your resilience gets low.  Amongst the homeless youth population in Brisbane I think the main substance of choice is paint. Cheap, easy to nick, and a quick high.

When you’re feeling like s— and all your friends are sniffing and trying to get you to, offering you fills, and life is crap for you at that point, it’s very hard not to just give in and take it.  Sure, it kills your brain cells, but who cares about that when you’ve got nothing much to live for anyway?

“You say you can’t stand it, but I don’t think you really understand what it’s like to be on the streets, what those kids who sniff have gone through, what they’re trying to escape from by getting high.  These kids cope with life BY sniffing.  That’s how they get through. And sometimes that’s how I get through too.

“I’m not going to get addicted to it, I won’t let myself, and I know there are other ways of coping, but when paint is pushed on you when you’re feeling down it’s very easy to just get high.

“Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh, but I hate how lots of people out there just think that kids who sniff are just a bunch of trouble makers running around mugging people and ruining their own lives, without stopping to think about the s— they’ve gone through to be sniffing in the first place, about whether if they were in those kids position they would be able to stop themselves sniffing.  Not that I’m saying that you think that about sniffers.”

Are drugs a problem for homeless youth? You bet, and we need to get these kids off the streets.  Sally is in a shelter now.  In later posts she is going through detox, so her protestation abut not going to get addicted is in vain.  

You will find a link to the homeless forums in the right hand column.  Anyone can read, anyone can join.  Free, and a real education.

Mayo Clinic LogoFor information you can give your kids about paint inhalants: Mayo Clinic.

This article is only one of more than 30 posts on homeless youth .  In addition there are more than 60 homeless veteran articles.   If you are interested in more, click one of these links.  Thank you for coming by.  Please consider adding me to your feed (see link below my picture.)  

Oldtimer

Educational Rights of Homeless Youth

US Homes and Communities logoThe federal McKinney-Vento Act protects the rights of children and youth in homeless situations to attend and succeed in school, including pre-school.

The McKinney-Vento Act applies to all children and youth who do not have a fixed, regular and adequate residence, including children and youth who are: staying with friends or relatives because they lost their housing; awaiting foster placement; or living in emergency or transitional shelters, motels, domestic violence shelters, campgrounds, inadequate trailer parks, cars, public spaces, abandoned buildings and bus/train stations.

Children and youth in homeless situations have the right to:

Arrow Go to school, no matter where they live or how long they have lived there;
Arrow Choose between the local school where they are living, the school they attended before they lost their housing, or the school where they were last enrolled;
Arrow Enroll in school without proof of residency, immunizations, school records, or other documents;
Arrow Get transportation to school;
Arrow Get all the school services they need;
Arrow Be free from harassment and isolation; and
Arrow Have disagreements with the school settled quickly.

For help enrolling in school or with other education issues, families, children and youth should contact their State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

Google it and you shall find!  Try the link above first.

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.