Vulnerable Populations: Homeless Youth Essay

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.

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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 state institutions.

Without a home, family support, or other resources, homeless youth are often locked up because they are without supervision and arrested for “status” offenses, such as running away or breaking curfew. In addition, as youth age out of the foster care system or are released from juvenile detention, they may lack support systems and opportunities for work and housing.In fact, 25 percent of former foster youth nationwide reported that they had been homeless at least one night within two-and-a-half to four years after exiting foster care (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2012) Social Issues.

Homeless youth are far more likely to participate in dangerous behaviors such as drug abuse (including needle sharing), stealing, pan-handling, and survival sex (sex for food, money, and shelter). These unfortunate circumstances may sooner or later put them in the judicial system. Homeless youth often feel like outsiders and suffer feelings of distrust toward people, feelings of loneliness, and low self-esteem.They have an incurable need of love and affection because of their situation. Homeless youth face difficulty attending school because of lack of transportation, and they are unable to meet the legal guardian requirements, residency requirements, and improper records (National Coalition for the Homeless). The homeless youth who attended school had a record of poor attendance and poor academic success.

As a result, homeless youth face major obstacles in obtaining an education and supporting themselves emotionally and financially. Clinical Issues.These risky behaviors put them more at risk for transmitted diseases, such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C. These youth are also at risk for both physical and sexual violence, both by other teens and adults (Martin, 2007). Homeless youth are more at risk for suicide than non-homeless youth. They are also more at risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders and depression.

The majority of homeless youth also suffer from some form of emotional disturbance even before entering street life (Martin, 2007). Intervention Strategies. Any Successful intervention program must first address the issue of youth feeling like outsiders.Many human service professionals strongly recommend that any intervention program be focused on identifying the youth’s strengths to help build their self-esteem.

Human Service professionals working with this population must provide consistent encouragement, compassionate care, and understanding that encourage both self-esteem and self-worth in these emotionally broken youth. This can be done by meeting the basic needs such as food, and shelter, and good health care. Developing one-on-one relationship where trust can grow slowly is an important tactic of intervention that may be more successful than more traditional outreach efforts.

This approach is challenging because there is not enough human service professionals to keep up with the rapidly growing population of homeless youth (Martin, 2007). Homeless youth benefit from programs that meet immediate needs first and then help them address other aspects of their lives. Programs that minimize institutional demands and offer a range of services have had success in helping homeless youth regain stability educational outreach programs, assistance in locating job training and employment, transitional living programs, and health care especially designed for and directed at homeless youth are also needed.In the long term, homeless youth would benefit from many of the same measures that are needed to fight poverty and homelessness in the adult population, including the provision of affordable housing and employment that pays a living wage. In addition to these basic supports, the child welfare system must make every effort to prevent children from ending up on the streets (NationalCoalition for the Homeless, 2012).

There are government programs to help homeless youth, such as The Transitional Living Program (TLP).This program provides homeless youth with stable, safe living accommodations for up to 18 months. The TLP provides services to help young people develop skills necessary to move to independence and life as healthy, productive adults. These services are provided through more than 191 community-based residential centers. The program also helps homeless youths improve basic life and interpersonal skills, provides educational opportunities, assists with job preparation and attainment, and ensures the physical and mental health care needs are met.Additionally, these programs offer parenting skills to pregnant or parenting teens to become a more effective parent (“Transitional Living Program for Homeless Youth”, n. d. ).

There are other programs, such as the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, FYSB funds street outreach, short-term shelter, and longer-term transitional living and maternity group home programs that serve and protect these young people. Summary. Many youth today are homeless either by choice or circumstances beyond their control. There are many dangers and risks that homeless youth take in order to survive on the streets.These youth are forced to grow up quickly, causing them to have a certain degree of emotional instability and low self – worth.

A lot of intervention is needed for the homeless youth in a variety of settings, such as providing for their physical and emotional needs. As noted in this paper, it is essential to know and understand what it means to be homeless and to understand the history, consequences, social, clinical issues, and intervention strategies to be able help the youth escape their precarious situation. References Martin, M. E.

(2007). Introduction to Human Services. : Pearson Education Inc.Moore, J. (n. d. ).

unaccompanied and Homeless youth. Retrieved from http://center. serve. org/nche/downloads/uy_lit_review. pdf National alliance to End Homelessness. (2012). Runaway and Homeless youth: Demographics, Programs, and Emerging Issues.

Retrieved from http://www. endhomelessness. org/content/article/detail/1451 National Coalition for the Homeless. (2012). Homeless Youth. Retrieved from http://www. nationalhomeless.

org/factsheets/youth. html Transitional Living Program for Homeless Youth. (n. d.

). Retrieved from http://www. benefits.



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