Sunday, November 1, 2009
NYT 10/26/09 Recession Drives Surge in Youth Runaways
Times are stressful and low income families are feeling it hardest. With so much financial stress parents may be short tempered, angry and violent. There has been an increase in youth runaways during this recession many of which are younger than 13. It is estimated that 1.6 million juveniles run away or are thrown out of their homes annually. Runaways that are too young to rent hotel rooms or hold a job are surviving by selling drugs, panhandling or engaging in prostitution. Runaways tend to avoid authority figures for fear of being sent home. They form little families amongst themselves and attempt to protect each other. Older children try to shelter younger children from being taken advantage of and show them how to survive on the streets. Authorities try to find runaways and send them home whenever possible but if their names are not listed in the National Crime Information Center or N.C.I.C they become invisible. In 16% of cases local police failed to enter the information into the federal database. Many of the runaways don't want to be found but these children may never have the opportunity to be productive members of society because of the difficulties of being a young, homeless runaway. There are nearly enough shelters or reform programs to help these children out.