Vulnerable Populations: Homeless Youth

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Homeless Youth
Gale Dowling
BSHS 301
June 19, 2012
Rachelle Jackson

Homeless Youth
Homeless youth is a rapidly growing problem in society today. There are many types of homeless youth and numerous contributing factors to their unfortunate situation. People need to have compassion toward these youth. These adolescents are the least understood, most vulnerable and most difficult to reach.Youth should not be in the streets because of the emotional and psychological impact it has on them later on in life. The youth are too young to even think about supporting themselves in society by living on the streets. Being in such destitute situation is not only dangerous but can also be a criminal offense in some areas.To understand the growing necessity to resolve the homeless population, the need to look at the definition, history, causes, the social problems, clinical issues and intervention strategies is essential. Who they are

There is no single definition of the term ‘runaway youth’ or ‘homeless youth’, both groups of youth share the risk of not having adequate shelter and other provisions, and may engage in harmful behaviors while away from a permanent home. These two groups also include “thrownaway” youth who are asked to leave their homes, and may include other vulnerable youth populations, such as current and former foster youth and youth with mental health or other issues. Homeless youth are individuals under age eighteen who lack parental, foster, or institutional care. These youth are often referred to as “unaccompanied” youth (Moore, 2012).” Demographics. “There is no known number of homeless youth because of their moving from one place to another. Determining the number of these youth is difficult because of the lack of standardized methods and inconsistent definitions of what means to be homeless or a runaway. Estimates of the homeless youth population range from 52,000 to over one million. Estimates of runaway youth — including “thrown away” youth — are between 1 million and 1.7 million(national Alliance to end Homelessness, 2012).” History.The Great Depression years brought another wave of homeless youth. In this time era there were large segments of the overall population who were homeless, so issues related specifically to youth homelessness were ignored. The 1960s ushered in a new group of homeless youth labeled runaways who, unlike their predecessors, left middle- and upper-class homes, rejected their parents’values, and focused on self-exploration and self-expression “In the 1970s and 1980s there was a steady increase in the number of young people who were forced out of their homes, abandoned, or living on the streets with their parents’ permission. The families of many of the youth were afflicted with substance abuse, violence, and other family conflicts. In the 1990s family dysfunction remained the primary reason for youth homelessness (Moore, 2012).” Causes of Homelessness.Causes of homelessness among youth fall into three inter-related categories: family problems, economic problems, and residential instability.Many homeless youth leave home after years of physical and sexual abuse, strained relationships, addiction of a family member, and parental neglect. Disruptive family conditions are the principal reason that young people leave home. Some youth may become homeless when their families suffer financial crises resulting from lack of affordable housing, limited employment opportunities, insufficient wages, no medical insurance, or inadequate welfare benefits. These youth become homeless with their families, but are later separated from them by shelter, transitional housing, or child welfare policies (Martin, 2007). Residential instability also contributes to homelessness among youth. A history of foster care correlates with becoming homeless at an earlier age and remaining homeless for a longer period of time (Martin, 2007). A large contributor to youth homelessness is discharge from...
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