The Life of a Teenage Runaway

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.

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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, as well as youth in general. Conditions like these can cause a teen to feel extremely depressed and maybe even afraid of his or her parents.

Not only does a parent’s use of alcohol and drugs affect a teen’s life, but the teen alone may be using these substances as well. Due to a sense of fear of how his or her parent may respond to knowledge of the teen’s drug use, the teen may not know what to do and simply run away in order to escape the situation. Running away from home gives teens a sense of freedom from whatever problems they face. Although it may not seem like it at the time, when a teen runs away from home, he or she has to face many more problems than he or she did at home. Where will he or she find food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to sleep?

Depending on how long the teen is gone, he or she may stay with a friend or family member, find a shelter to live in, or even live on the streets. According to statistics, between 1. 7 and 2. 8 million runaway and homeless youth live on the street each year, and twenty-six percent of youth in shelters and thirty-two percent of youth on the street have attempted suicide (“Running Away”). Homeless youth shelters provide teens and other children with the basic everyday essentials that they need to survive. Despite this, the youth may not feel the same way emotionally as they would at home.

Kids who live on the streets must “Dumpster dive,” as Lars Eighner would say. They are forced to find an abandoned building or newspapers to provide them with warmth and shelter. These individuals will steep to the lowest levels of prostitution and selling drugs just to be provided with the tools necessary to live in this world. They also develop big self-esteem issues. If the teen is not shown any compassion from family and friends after leaving, he or she may feel unwanted or out of place; as a result, he or she may question whether or not life is worth living anymore.

Thoughts such as these may contribute to a greater time away from home and ultimately attempted suicide. Another big challenge runaways, especially females, may face is sexual assault. Researchers have found that an estimated 38,600 runaways were at risk for sexual endangerment or exploitation by being sexually assaulted, being in the company of someone who is sexually abusive, or engaging in sexual activity for things such as money food, shelter or drugs (“Runaway”).

It has been stated that girls with a history of sexual onset and touching in a romantic relationship have a higher risk of being sexually assaulted, and when they run away, the risk increases even more (Thrane). Many other things such as alcohol use, being neglected, child abuse, and mental health all contribute to the risk of being sexually assaulted as well. These are all things that can decrease a teen’s self-esteem and in the end make her more vulnerable to sexual offers than a teen that has not been exposed to such things. Despite the rising number of teens that are deciding to run away from their omes, there are still ways to prevent them from doing so. There are many ways to stop the increase in teenage runaways, and the first step is to know the signs. Teens who tend to argue and raise their voices in attempt to communicate may be at risk of leaving home. In addition, adolescents who have friends that are not supervised or are involved with drugs and alcohol may be negatively affected by their peers’ actions. If they belong to households in which the parents are very strict, they may be influenced to run away just to fit in with their friends.

It is always best to pay attention to any changing behaviors, declining grades, and rebellion. Also, if a teen ever threatens to run away or keeps clothes packed in a bag, it is best to remain attentive to the teen’s future actions. A good way to avoid dealing with the problem of a teen running away is to keep a good relationship with the child and enforce an open communication policy between the child and parents. Teenage years are full of changes and adjustments that can bring along a lot of stress. Sometimes teens just need a strong support system and someone to listen to what they have to say.

It is also vital to ensure that the child knows the consequences that come along with leaving home such as finances, food, and shelter. Most importantly, one must also confirm that the teen understands that running away brings a lot of safety issues. The subject of teenage runaways and homelessness in general is an issue that is known worldwide. It is a problem that should be stressed more rather than being pushed aside. The people of the United States tend to contribute to homeless causes, but very little focus is put on teenage runaways alone.

If more people are educated about the seriousness of this concern, the number of teens leaving home could decrease dramatically, and a better tomorrow could be created. The children are the future, but if they are raised to think that it is okay to run away from their problems, the status of the world will only decrease.

Works Cited Corliss, Heather L,PhD. , M. P. H. , et al. “High Burden of Homelessness among Sexual-Minority Adolescents: Findings from a Representative Massachusetts High School Sample. ” American Journal of Public Health 101. 9 (2011): 1683-9. ABI/INFORM Complete; ABI/INFORM Global; ProQuest Research Library; ProQuest Social Science Journals. Web. 4 Oct. 2012. Eighner, Lars. Travels with Lizbeth. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993. Print. Fothergill, Kate E. , et al. “A Prospective Study of Childhood and Adolescent Antecedents of Homelessness among a Community Population of African Americans. ” Journal of Urban Health 89. 3 (2012): 432-46. ProQuest Social Science Journals. Web. 4 Oct. 2012. Joan, S. Tucker, et al. “Running Away from Home: A Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Risk Factors and Young Adult Outcomes. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 40. 5 (2011): 507-18. ABI/INFORM Complete; ABI/INFORM Global; ProQuest Education Journals; ProQuest Research Library; ProQuest Social Science Journals. Web. 8 Oct. 2012. Maccio, Elaine M. , and Jamie T. Schuler. “Substance use, Self-Esteem, and Self-Efficacy among Homeless and Runaway Youth in New Orleans. ” Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal 29. 2 (2012): 123-36. ProQuest Education Journals; ProQuest Research Library; ProQuest Social Science Journals. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. Pittman, Keadrick. Personal Interview. 03 Oct 2012. “Runaway Situations. ”Building Brighter Tomorrows. 1736 Family Crisis Center, 2010. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. “Running Away. ”  afe Place. National Runaway Switchboard, Web. 1 Oct. 2012. Slesnick, Natasha, and Jillian L. Prestopnik. “Comparison of Family Therapy Outcome with Alcohol-Abusing, Runaway Adolescents. ” Journal of marital and family therapy 35. 3 (2009): 255-77. ProQuest Education Journals; ProQuest Research Library; ProQuest Social Science Journals. Web. 8 Oct. 2012. Thrane, Lisa E. PhD. , Kevin A. Yoder PhD. , and Xiaojin Chen. “The Influence of Running Away on the Risk of Female Sexual Assault in the Subsequent Year. ” Violence and victims 26. 6 (2011): 816-29. ProQuest Research Library; ProQuest Social Science Journals. Web. 4 Oct. 2012. Wan-Ning, Bao, Les B. Whitbeck, and Dan R. Hoyt. “Abuse, Support, and Depression among Homeless and Runaway Adolescents. ” Journal of health and social behavior 41. 4 (2000): 408-20. ProQuest Research Library; ProQuest Social Science Journals. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.

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