SERVING THE RUNAWAY YOUTH
Gaining a Better Understanding of the Impact of Homelessness on Teens
Data on teen homelessness has been collected for years, but analyzing and understanding the statistical affects has been a more recent development. According to research, teens in unstable living conditions associated with homelessness, are at a far higher risk to attempt suicide, experience violence caused by intimate partners and be exposed and afflicted by preventable, yet serious health issues. These teens are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their counterparts in a more traditional home setting.
Two key factors in childhood development are typically unattainable for homeless teens. Adequate sleep and proper nutrition. It is reported that homeless teens are more likely to sleep for less than four hours per night, far fewer ours than teens in a traditional home. Proper sleep is detrimental not only for growing bodies, but also growing minds. Continuous missed sleep can include risks of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Similarly, inadequate nutrition due to missed meals can cause physical and mental disabilities. Often, homeless teens attending public school have access to free breakfast programs in school, but they can often be reluctant to partake in these programs due to feelings of shame. Other factors could include logistical issues of teens not making it to school early enough, since these programs typically start before school.
It is imperative that the homelessness crisis is once and for all addressed, but also these unique risks and concerns homeless teens experience. A more successful outcome in the educational process as well as overall health and wellbeing is possible not only through governmental funding and research but also through public funding and assistance.