Tag 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

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Homeless Youth Project

Homeless Youth Project 

Early on in this blog I wrote a number of articles on homeless youth,  but lately I have written mostly about homeless veterans and also PTSD among veterans.   All of these areas are under-served.   If you do a tag click on “homeless youth”, you will find that despite not having written anything on our youth since August 7th, 27 of the 28 posts that are brought up by WordPress were written by me.   No one seems to care about our youth and few about our homeless veterans.   Well, I care.

I’ve noticed a lot of visitors lately looking at my earlier posts on homeless youth and realized that I’ve been neglecting that area.   I’ve written 32 posts on homeless youth and 72 on homeless veterans, but nothing on the youth lately.   I’ll try to keep this more balanced.  If anyone else wants to jump in and blog about either subject you will be most welcome, since the object here is to shine as much light as possible so someone somewhere with a little clout will put up some muscle and really help.

Homeless Youth  

Photo by Mike Brodie, see link below

Below is an interesting video, actually a slide show set to music and above is a shot from that video taken off of the photographer’s website.  I don’t know whether the person that put it in slide show (realstraycat)  with music is associated with the photographer or not, but I recognized the pictures immediately.  The photographer is a homeless youth himself, having taken most of these pictures with a beat-up old Polaroid camera made in the 1970s.   Simply amazing photos though.

Mike Brodie, the Polaroid Kidd, photographed these pictures which are part of a touring exhibition – “Brodie left home at 18 to travel the rails across America, and found himself spending three years photographing the friends and companions he encountered with a Polaroid SX-70 camera.

“Photography has made me what I am. It pulls me in all directions. It gives and takes friends, and pushes me to move miles and miles. My desire to photograph these people in the beginning is what led me to develop such great relationships with them; some being relationships that will last clear on ’til the day I die. I’m really lucky ’cause I never used to be this social.”

Brodie’s pictures are authentic and show the beauty of some of America’s most overlooked people. These are images captured by a member of the tribe and through a sympathetic lens.” 

The music in the video is moody and sad, as it should be.  The pictures are captivating, nothing risque, but telling the truth:  There is nothing glamorous about being a homeless kid or homeless young adult.  Moments of fun maybe, but mostly misery and danger – always danger. Freedom to eat what you can find, sleep where you dare, fight for your coat and shoes, and hope that somehow you will survive long enough to grow up. 

Traveling together is a form of protection from sexual predators and other gangs, an almost communal way to share needs, food, clothes, survival, and a way to share street smarts that were learned the much too hard way.

realstraycat

Here is a link to some of Mike Brodie’s still photos if you want to see them in all their glory.   Street kids, mostly traveling on the railroad, panhandling on the streets or hanging out in makeshift shacks in the woods.   Beautiful and telling photography.  My Polaroids never looked like these.

Here are some links you may be interested in:

 Homeless Youth – Some Random Facts that May Scare You

Homelessness Among Children and Youth – Basic Facts 

How many of the Homeless are Youth?

Link to all Homeless Youth Articles by Oldtimer

Oldtimer

Homeless Youth

“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?

Click for all Homeless Youth Articles

Click for all Homeless Veteran Articles

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

Click for all homeless veteran articles

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.