I live in a small town, and I just recently found out that even though it is small, we have SEVEN homeless shelters here. I thought, Do we really have that many homeless people here, in our own little town? That can't be.
Well, it isn't for the homeless just here. These shelters care for the homeless from "wherever", and unfortunately, many are children from infants all the way to teens. The sad thing about the teens, however, is that many are not with their own families. They are runaways, from all kinds of abuse and trauma in their own homes. They are runaways from nothing more than strict parents whose rules they don't want to abide by. And they are runaways from homeless families, where they have left to try and find a better life for themselves, and have failed. Miserably.
Who are these children? They come from all walks of life, all races, religions, and economic lifestyles. There are far too many families who have lost everything since the recession of 2008: jobs lost or downsided; mortgages gone unpaid so the home is lost; no work in sight; no help or benefits from former employers or from the government. In other countries, homeless children are displayed in the media in very graphic and brutal ways, because this is how they are handled. Here in the US, homelessness is underated, it is inconspicuous because no one...NO ONE...wants to talk about it, much less see these homeless children graphically displayed on national TV.
What is this called? Passive resistence? Subtle acceptance of this phenomenon but let's not talk about it and maybe it will go away?
It is the unrelenting silence about homeless children that screams out to us that, yes, we MUST talk about it, it is vital that we talk about it. Even more vital is that we do something about it. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
So let's talk about it, by thinking about the statistics that surround homeless children as opposed to those who are not homeless:
1. They are 4 times more likely to have severe respiratory problems.
2. They have 2 times as many ear infections
3. They have 5 times more gastrointestinal problems, due to hunger and near starvation.
4. They are 3 times more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems. I wonder why that is.
5. Of Homeless elementary school age children, only 21.5% of them are proficient in their age/class math; by high school, homeless kids have only 11.4% proficiency in math, and 14.6% in reading.
6. By age 12, 83% of homeless kids have witnessed, close up and personal, at least one serious violent crime, like murder, rape, physical assault, and suicide. Appoximately 80% of homeless/runaway kids, male and female, have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Are you shocked by now? I was, although not very surprised. And one other fact: did you know that US homeless children and teens are 17% more likely to die from gun violence than their peers in 25 other countries?
Homelessness results from a variety of factors, but poverty is the most prominent. The poverty level in the US for 2014 is $23,850 or less yearly for a family of four. In 2013, the US was ranked as having the 2nd highest child poverty rates in the world. That same year, 16.7 million children were living in food insecure households ( meaning they went hungry much of the time) or they were homeless.
We are "supposed" to be the wealthiest, most powerful, most well-developed country on this planet. Please explain to me why these statistics are here, and why, today, we still have 1.6 million homeless children?
Mahatma Gandhi said, "Poverty is the worst form of violence."
Until next time,
That's a wrap.
The list goes on, and we all know about it. But let's talk about these children who are homeless for no reasons of their own.