#SUNKIDS CALL TO ACTION: Homeless Youth: What Can I Do?

WHAT IF YOU WERE HOMELESS?

Homeless kids find themselves in terrible positions all the time. Dangerous streets, cold and hungry nights, and often they don’t have the comfort of a parent. Many are alone in the world and don’t know how to find the help they need.

If you have any doubts about how tough it is for street kids, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would you climb in garbage filled dumpsters to stay out of the wind, rain, cold or freezing weather?
  • Could you sleep in a dark abandoned building that was falling down?
  • Would you find a doorway at night and huddle as close to the wall as possible, hoping drug addicts or alcoholics wouldn’t notice you?
  • How would you find your next meal with your stomach growling in hunger?
  • Would you lie on a dirty subway floor hoping you wouldn’t get tripped over by an unsuspecting person while you slept?
  • Would you find a park bench under a tree and use newspaper for a cover?
  • How would you stay away from bad people, promising you food and clothes to do something you knew was wrong?

With no assurance of safety, you might do all or some of those things because you feel there’s no other way to survive.

DEFINITION OF HOMELESS YOUTH

Homeless youth are individuals under the age of eighteen who lack parental, foster, or institutional care. Approximately 380,000 are under the age of 18. Accurately counting homeless children and youth is particularly difficult. The National Alliance to End Homelessness explains, “Homeless youth are less likely to spend time in the same places as homeless people who are in an older age range. They are often less willing to disclose that they’re experiencing homelessness or may not even identify as homeless. They also may work harder to try to blend in with peers who aren’t homeless.” These young people are sometimes referred to as an unaccompanied youth.

CAUSES OF YOUTH HOMELESSNESS

A large majority of youth do not become homeless because they want to be. There are a number of problems that contribute to youth homelessness, but studies suggest there are common paths. Young people run away or get kicked out of unstable home environments. Youth may be abandoned by their families or caregivers and placed in foster care. Some youth may be a part of the juvenile justice system or have mental health issues.

IF YOU THINK A YOUTH IS HOMELESS YOU CAN HELP!

• The best thing to do, talk to a parent/guardian and ask for help.
• Talk to a teacher or other appropriate person at school and let them know your concerns.
• Start a hat and glove drive for homeless youth in your community.
• Save your change, buy school supplies or a game for a homeless youth.
The Salvation Army has donation drives during the holidays and you can donate your change.
• You can make a gift box filled with tasty snacks, everyday grooming items, or things you would like for yourself.
• Visit your local youth homeless shelter and ask if you can volunteer
• Be a leader and role model of kindness.

Visit SuitUp Nation’s The Next Generation group to join in the conversation and become part of the #SUN movement. Make sure to let us know when you’ve taken action! Leave us a comment on our Facebook Page! Tell everyone you’re a budding activist who’s standing up for Human Rights all over North America!