The Importance Of Homeless Youth

Superior Essays
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on a single night there are up to 200,000 youth who are homeless (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2015). The United States Department of Education defines youth homelessness as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). However, the age limitations for the definition of youth homelessness are often inconsistent, which makes it hard to get empirical evidence on the number of homeless youth. Youth homelessness is a widespread issue that has many damaging effects including the increased risk for substance abuse, mental illness, and dropping out of school, but it can be helped with shelters and higher levels of adult …show more content…
Oftentimes, it is hard to distinguish a homeless teenager from one who is housed, which is why many people are unaware of how widespread this issue is. According to a study conducted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “during a year approximately 550,000 unaccompanied, single youth and young adults up to age 24 experience a homelessness episode of longer than one week”. However, only about 50,000 of these youth received services from programs and shelters specifically targeted at homeless youth. Also, this is just an estimate as it is hard to find concrete evidence on the number of homeless youth. One reason for this is that most homeless youth are only homeless for short periods of time, or only stay in one place for a short time, choosing to move around much more than homeless adults (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2015). Another reason for the lack of evidence is the lack of a set definition for what it means to be homeless as a youth, making it difficult to distinguish who is homeless and who is not. (Ringwalt, Greene, Robertson, & McPheeters, 1998, p. 1325). Homelessness is not just a problem in one area of the country or with a certain group of people; it can affect anyone. According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health, contrary to popular belief, race, economic status and family structure were not significant …show more content…
Substance abuse, including the use and excessive use of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and other drugs, is extremely common among the homeless youth population. Oftentimes, homeless youth turn to substance abuse as a result of the trauma they have experienced in their lifetime both before and during their homelessness (Bender, Ferguson, Thompson, Komlo, & Pollio, 2010, p. 162). According to a recent study conducted by the journal, Child & Youth Care Forum, about two-thirds of homeless youth staying in a homeless shelter have abused substances (Ferguson & Xie, 2012, p. 428). However, this number is even higher among homeless youth who are not living in a shelter. Some studies have shown that as a population, up to ninety percent of homeless youth have abused substances, with the most commonly used being alcohol (Edidin, Ganim, Hunter, & Karnik, 2012, p. 361). Overall, both the rates for homeless youth in and out of shelters are significantly higher than young people who have a more stable living situation. Studies have also shown that substance abuse rates are higher among homeless youth who are members of a gang (Ferguson & Xie, 2012, p. 429) and also higher among youth who have been homeless for a longer period of time (Ferguson & Xie, 2012, p. 430). Substance abuse has damaging consequences that makes it even more difficult for youth to escape

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