The Life of a Teenage Runaway poses different obstacles, specific to each person. Young people handle these challenges in various ways; regrettably, some choose to depart from their homes in search of a better future. Maccio’s studies indicate that around 1.7 million children and teenagers run away or are expelled by their parents every year. Research conducted by Slesnick and Pretopnik shows that runaway and homeless youth typically escape from family environments characterized by insufficient parenting, violence, neglect, and sexual abuse.
Adolescents may choose to run away for various reasons, including attempting to escape challenges or difficulties in their lives, searching for relief from torment or emotional pain, and feeling neglected or unwanted by loved ones. Although these experiences are typical during adolescence, it is vital to take steps to prevent runaway situations among young people. To deter them from leaving home, it is essential to address the specific factors that motivate adolescents to run away.
Teenagers frequently depart their residences in order to escape from a harmful family setting, which may entail different types of child abuse such as physical, sexual, and emotional. Physical abuse involves actions like punching, beating, biting, and burning that directly harm the child. The American Humane Association asserts that physical abuse might happen when parents employ disproportionate physical punishment without fully comprehending its impact on the child.
Physical abuse, as stated by the American Humane Association, frequently arises from parental immaturity, insufficient parenting abilities, or substance abuse. Adolescents who witness such conduct from their parents are more prone to flee their homes. Sexual abuse is an additional variant of physical abuse that encompasses behaviors like inserting objects into a child’s vagina or anus, exposing them to pornographic material, or exploiting them sexually. This not only results in trust and depression problems but also contributes to diminished self-worth and can affect the child’s future relationships.
Emotional abuse encompasses a range of harmful behaviors that hinder a child’s emotional and psychological growth. This includes acts like rejection, verbal attacks, intimidation, and neglect. Such mistreatment can have detrimental effects on the child’s mental well-being, potentially prompting them to flee in order to find solace. The impact of depression often compels teenagers to leave their households. Research from teendepression.org indicates that around ten to fifteen percent of adolescents display symptoms of depression. Factors such as variations in sexual orientation and substance misuse involving alcohol and drugs contribute to this condition.
According to Heather Corliss, young individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual face a greater risk of homelessness. This is attributed to societal non-acceptance and lack of parental support due to their sexual orientation not aligning with societal norms. Studies reveal that they are more likely to encounter mistreatment from their families and discrimination in comparison to heterosexual individuals. Furthermore, there has been a notable rise in alcohol and drug abuse within this demographic, highlighting significant social challenges.
Substance abuse is a significant issue among runaway and homeless youth, as stated by Slesnick and Prestopnik. The health and social well-being of these individuals can be severely impacted by alcohol and drug abuse, potentially causing life-threatening illnesses like cancer. Witnessing their parents’ battle with addiction can have profound emotional effects on teenagers and young people, leading to severe depression and fear.
Both parental substance abuse and the teen’s own substance use have a significant impact on their life. The fear of the parent’s reaction to the teen’s drug use may lead them to feel lost, leading them to run away from home in an attempt to escape these situations. Running away gives teenagers a sense of freedom from their problems. However, it also exposes them to new challenges they did not face while living at home, including difficulty finding food, clothing, and shelter.
When a teenager is away from home for an extended period, they have several options for accommodations. They can either stay with a friend or family member, seek shelter in a designated facility, or resort to living on the streets. Approximately 1.7-2.8 million adolescents who have left home reside on the streets annually. Shockingly, twenty-six percent of young people in shelters and thirty-two percent of those living on the streets have attempted suicide (“Running Away”). Youth shelters for the homeless provide essential everyday necessities to teenagers and other children to ensure their survival; however, emotionally, these young individuals may not experience the same sense of security as they would in their own homes.
Kids who live on the streets have to resort to “Dumpster diving,” according to Lars Eighner. They are compelled to search for abandoned buildings or newspapers for warmth and shelter. These individuals even stoop to engaging in prostitution and drug dealing just to acquire the necessities to survive. Additionally, they experience significant self-esteem problems. If these teenagers receive no compassion from their family and friends upon leaving, they may feel rejected or alienated, leading them to question the value of life itself.
These thoughts can lead to increased time spent away from home and ultimately result in suicide attempts. Runaways, particularly females, also face the significant challenge of sexual assault. Research has shown that approximately 38,600 runaways are at risk of being sexually endangered or exploited. This includes being sexually assaulted, being in the company of someone who is sexually abusive, or engaging in sexual activities in exchange for essentials such as money, food, shelter, or drugs (“Runaway”).
According to Thrane, if girls experience sexual initiation and touching in a romantic relationship and then decide to run away, they have an increased risk of being sexually assaulted. This heightened risk is influenced by factors such as alcohol use, neglect, child abuse, and mental health issues. These experiences can lower a teenager’s self-esteem and make them more vulnerable to sexual advances compared to those who haven’t gone through similar situations.
Despite the increasing number of runaway teenagers, there are steps that can be taken to prevent this behavior. The first step involves recognizing the warning signs. Teenagers who frequently argue and raise their voices during communication may be inclined to leave home. Additionally, teenagers with unsupervised friends or involved in drug and alcohol activities might be negatively influenced by their peers’ actions. Strict household environments can also push teenagers towards running away in order to fit in with their friends.
It is advisable to be mindful of any changes in behavior, academic performance, and acts of defiance. Additionally, if a teenager ever expresses intentions of fleeing or consistently keeps a bag packed, it is important to remain vigilant about their future actions. A beneficial approach to preventing the issue of a teenager running away is to foster a strong bond with the child and establish an atmosphere of open communication between parents and the child. The adolescent years are filled with numerous transformations and adaptations that can induce significant stress. At times, teenagers simply require a reliable support system and someone who will lend them an ear.
It is crucial to educate the child about the possible outcomes of leaving home, including the impact on finances, food, and shelter. Equally important is ensuring that the teenager comprehends the safety risks associated with running away. The issue of teenage runaways and homelessness is a global problem that deserves greater attention and emphasis, rather than being neglected. While the people of the United States often donate to causes related to homelessness, little focus is placed specifically on teenage runaways.
The future can be significantly improved if more people understand the seriousness of the concern regarding the decrease in the number of teenagers leaving home. It is important to teach children that running away is not an acceptable solution as they hold the key to our future, and allowing this behavior will only worsen the state of the world.
The text includes citations from various sources:
– 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):123–136.ProQuest Education Journals; ProQuest Research Library; ProQuest Social Science Journals.Web .15Oct .2012 .
– Pittman,Keadrick.Personal Interview October03rd , 2012.
– “Runaway Situations.”Building Brighter Tomorrows.1736 Family Crisis Center, 2010.Web.15 Oct.2012.”Running Away” is an article published by Slesnick, Natasha, and Jillian L. Prestopnik on October 1, 2012 in the Journal of marital and family therapy. It can be accessed in ProQuest Education Journals, ProQuest Research Library, and ProQuest Social Science Journals. Similarly, on October 4, 2012, Thrane Lisa E. PhD., Kevin A. Yoder PhD., and Xiaojin Chen published “The Influence of Running Away on the Risk of Female Sexual Assault in the Subsequent Year” in Violence and victims. This article is available in ProQuest Research Library and ProQuest Social Science Journals. Lastly, Wan-Ning Bao, Les B. Whitbeck, and Dan R Hoyt published “Abuse Support and Depression among Homeless and Runaway Adolescents” in the Journal of health and social behavior on October 9th , 2012 which can also be found in both ProQuest Research Library as well as ProQuest Social Science Journals