Runaways and Unaccompanied Youth in the United States

956 Words4 Pages
People look at you like you’re the one to blame. They see your tattered sneakers and tangled, greasy hair, and they think they know you. But how could they? You amble down the sidewalk, keep your head down, your eyes averted. You don’t want any trouble. People are quick to assume that's what you're looking for. Your lips are chapped and your face is dirty. You cannot remember the last time you brushed your teeth, let alone took a shower. The thought makes you laugh almost as much as the thought of your old bedroom walls, the shadows cast by the ceiling fan as you stared up from your bed. You had to leave home. It was taken from you. The adults in your life shifted as you grew older, or perhaps you just grew aware. They took pills or tipped glasses or screamed at you for no particular reason. They kicked you out when you got pregnant, when you got mouthy, when you weren't all they wanted you to be. They got sadistic. They crossed unspeakable lines. You had to leave home. You are barely more than a child. At least, you were before. Now, you are homeless. According to an article published by the National Coalition for the Homeless, there are over 1.6 million runaways and unaccompanied youth in the United States. This means they spend this critical age, the time for school dances and serial procrastination, ducking into alleys and sleeping on park benches. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures a startling one in seven children between the ages ten and eighteen will run away (Homeless and Runaway Youth). In a nation so mindful of their youth, America has fallen behind in prioritizing a safe place for these youth to sleep at night. If this problem persists, future generations will find themselves being led by vola... ... middle of paper ... ...b. 17 Mar. 2014. "Hurricane Katrina Frequently Asked Questions from Hurricane Katrina Relief." Hurricane Katrina Relief, 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. Robertson, Marjorie J. "Youth, Homeless." Encyclopedia of Homelessness. Ed. David Levinson. Vol. 2. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2004. 615-622. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. Stablein, T. Patrick. "Homelessness, Youth." Encyclopedia of Social Problems. Ed. Vincent N. Parrillo. Vol. 1. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2008. 452-453. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "Current Statistics on the Prevalence and Characteristics of People Experiencing Homelessness in the United States." Homelessness Resource Center. Department of Health and Human Services, July 2011. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.

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