The Consequences Of Growing Up Homeless

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Georges is a boy from the Centrepoint Homeless Shelter who has a story to tell. He had always had a fine life with his mother, except for the days she beat him. One day he has enough of it, so he left, spending several nights on the street in the middle of November in only a t-shirt and jeans. Through all the stress of living with his girlfriend and friends, he started going through a bad depression, and blamed himself for all the things he was going through, when really, none of it was his fault.

Being homeless can be defined as a person without a home, most likely living on the street. The effects these children experience can be both short and long term. Most children become homeless due to the choices their parents make, usually involving substance or drug abuse. Youth who grow up with parents who are addicted to alcohol or drugs are at a high risk for developing a mental illness and face the struggle of becoming an addict themselves. (Parental Drug Addiction and Its Destructive Impact on Children). Safework Laboratories says, 45 to 79 percent of children in the US are more likely to become addicted to drugs if their parents are addicted as well. (par. 8) In spending all their money on drugs, families or parents cannot afford the proper housing or food for their children, which often leads to them fending for themselves, or even worse, these youth are locked out of their house or have no choice but to run away.

A homeless child on the street only thinks about two things; where can they find food, and where can they sleep where they will not be bothered. These youth do not think about school, and most of them drop out or stop showing up. They believe that time is wasted going to school when they could be working and getting money for food or clothing. But not all homeless youth drop out. Those few that stay in school faces many hardships, one of the biggest being finding a place to do homework, especially if its online. The supplies that is needed inside school may be easy for normal people to get, is a problem for those on the streets. As a child sits in school, the stress and the struggles of the street are constantly on their mind, which makes learning a bit of a disorder. These youth can get months behind because days of school will be missed for work, or for finding another place to stay. Not all homeless youth drop out, but not all make it to graduation. Without the proper education or even a GED, these teens will only make about 20,000 dollars a year, which is not enough to support themselves. The fact of getting a job and it normally being the child's first job, they will typically only make minimum wage, and the money rapidly gets spent on the essential items needed in a home.

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Being homeless can have long term effects on any child. Stephanie Dickrell from the SC Times says, “Many homeless families and children have risk factors that are strongly associated with long-term problems. There's strong evidence these children have toxic-stress exposure, undermining health, brain development and long-term functioning,” (Dickrell). Children need to grow up in a stable, structural environment. Throughout the process of adolescence, these children learn to be social and how to build relationships with different kinds of people. As a homeless youth, their top priority is finding a way to survive. These relationships are not built with new people and this causes big social gaps in the youth's life. Domestic violence in a household can be one of the biggest reasons a child can become homeless, whether they were trying to run away from the problem or because they were denied the freedom to live in their house. Children normally tend to have mixed emotions about this topic. These youth tend to turn fearful, or find themselves in a great deal of depression, and push people away or isolate themselves from the outside world, which is yet another example of how these children are struggling with these social problems. Graduateway states,” A child can derive the greatest amount of stress in his or her life from his or her homeless situation. The way this stress affects different children, however varies. Research conducted on different life events such as divorce, hospitalization, and the birth of a sibling, suggests that boys appear more vulnerable to effects of stress as girls. The experience of being homeless is a far more drastic event than those mentioned and as such will most likely affect boys more and girls differently than the previously stated life events do. “(Graduatway Ch. 1). As a child grows up, this stress level only builds, as they realize life only gets harder without the things a normal child would get.

Mental problems and mental illnesses arise with living on the street. Behavior problems are a big setback for youth living on their own. Children think they are their own boss, so they do not feel the need to listen to any adult or someone older than them. If the child is still in school, teachers have a hard time finding ways to discipline these kids because they do not listen. These youth see more crimes living on the street than people in a normal house even hear of. They struggle with violence acts against them and must learn how to stand up for themselves and how to fight back if necessary. In seeing and growing up facing and watching these problems every day, these youth tend to get tangled into stuff no child should ever be involved in. To get money or food, or even other essentials these kids need, they feel the need to be involved in these crimes. Homeless youth have no one as they grow up. Children need to feel a sense of protection, and love from other people. A lot of children tend to get mixed up with the wrong kinds of people, just looking for that affection and the feeling of being wanted. These troubled youth look to the gangs that work the streets they live on, thus involving themselves in petty, or even serious crimes. Gang members will most likely take advantage of these kids, getting them to smuggle and sell drugs or even involve or sell them into prostitution, or other adults. The youth think that this is the only way they can get the money they need. These poor choices can lead to long term effects like being coming addicted to drugs, or being sexually abused, or worse, getting themselves killed.

Children who grow up homeless struggle through so many hardships that no child should ever face. The effects these children experience can be both short and long term. They struggle with things that normal youth do not even think twice about, like finding a place to sleep every night, or struggling to buy food or clothes. These youth have no protection or care, and the only person they have is their self. Some of these kids will live on the streets their whole life, and some will find a way to fight through the hardships and make a better life for their selves. Mental issues arise with the child, and some may never be able to overcome them. The only way we can help these children have a someone healthy adult life is to make a safe and nonthreatening environment for them, especially at school or public spaces that these children tend to visit.

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The Consequences Of Growing Up Homeless. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
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