The Life of a Teenage Runaway
Along with being a teenager comes many hardships that vary from person to person. Different people choose to deal with their issues in different ways; unfortunately, some teens choose to leave their homes in hopes that the situation will get better. It has been shown that each year, nearly 1.7 million children and teenagers run away from home or are forced out by their parents (Maccio). “Substantial research shows that runaway and homeless youth are running away from a family situation characterized by poor parenting practices, violence, neglect, and sexual abuse” (Slesnick and Pretopnik). Adolescents may experience various scenarios that will cause him or her to run away. Some may run away to try and free themselves of their day-to-day lives or torments that they may face. Some may want to escape the struggles and hardships of life. Some may even leave because they feel neglected or unwanted by the ones they care about the most. Although these experiences may happen during adolescence, there are preventive measures that can be taken to keep kids from leaving home.
Many adolescents run away from home for several different reasons. One of the more prevalent reasons is child and family abuse. There is evidence that shows that many teens leave home to escape an abusive family situation (Wan-Ning). Child abuse comes in many different forms, including physical, sexual, and emotional. Physical abuse is portrayed as being a hands-on approach to harming the child; it ranges from punching and beating to biting and burning. According to the American Humane Association, physical abuse sometimes comes from extreme physical discipline in which the parent is not aware of how intense his or her force is to the child. Often, physical abuse can result from parental immaturity, lack of parenting skills, or even drug or alcohol problems (American Humane Association). Teens that see their parents engaging in this type of physical behavior will be more likely to run away. Sexual abuse is another form of physical abuse; it involves acts such as penetration into a child’s vagina or anus, showing a child pornographic material, or sexually exploiting a child. Not only can sexual abuse create trust issues and depression, but it also contributes to low self-esteem and can affect relationships that the child may have later in life. Emotional abuse is any act that harms a child’s emotional or psychological development; it includes, but is not limited to, rejecting, verbally assaulting, terrorizing, or neglecting a child. These types of abuse each create stress and depression in a child’s life and teens may find that running away is the best solution.
Depression is a tremendous factor in a teen’s decision to leave home. It has been proven that ten to fifteen percent of teens show symptoms of teen depression (teendepression.org). Some factors that can contribute to depression include differentiation in sexual orientation and alcohol and drug abuse. According to Heather Corliss, “Youth with minority sexual orientations (such as those identifying themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual) appear to be disproportionately at risk for homelessness.” These youth tend to have a hard time being accepted by society and their parents because they are not like everyone else in terms of sexuality. Studies show that these individuals have a higher risk of mistreatment from family and discrimination than those individuals who are heterosexual.
Alcohol and drug abuse are social problems that have become increasingly common over time. According to Slesnick and Prestopnik, substance abuse is one of the significant issues in the lives of youth who make up the runaway and homeless population. Alcohol and drug abuse can create many health and social complications; it can lead to different types of cancer and an overall life-changing diseases. Seeing their parents in such a difficult situation must have a tremendous effect on teens,...
Cited: Eighner, Lars. Travels with Lizbeth. New York: St. Martin 's Press, 1993. Print.
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