The purpose of this study is to explore family dysfunction and the reasons why there is an increase in the amount of homeless population in our society, and more specifically focusing on the question how does parental abuse and neglect youth that makes them feel obligated to leave the family unit. This study will analyze family communication as a whole, violence that is present in the household, consequences to society that come from juvenile homelessness, and previous studies that may help answer some questions to the mystery why this is becoming an epidemic in our country.
Homeless juveniles are most likely to come from dysfunctional or abusive households. Both parental violence and substance abuse characteristic among these families often lead to multiple contacts with the social service system. Avoiding being placed in state foster care services, and avoiding parental abuse, this may contribute to early independence, running away from home and eventually becoming homeless. Homelessness among youth in the U.S. is disturbingly common, with an estimated annual prevalence of at least 5 percent for those ages 12 to 17.
Juveniles often run away from their family structure units and leave with a feeling of freedom-often escaping from abuse from family members, or lack of acceptance due to the fact that the fact that these juveniles’ parents are not accepting their preferred sexual orientation. Often this leads to disputes regarding-shame or internal conflict, for example: confusion and not being “good-enough” or a failure to their parents.
On the streets, usually with no money, and no support from others, these children are lost and have no resources to turn to. Depending on where these juveniles are at, for example a rural society, there is often no shelters or resources for them. This leads to desperate teens doing whatever it takes to survive.
When teens are desperate, others usually adults take advantage of them. This leads to illicit behaviors, such as sex-trafficking, prostituting or drug trafficking. Survival sex plays a role in this as well-where juveniles will do whatever it takes to fell love, or find shelter, and or food in order to survive.
Luckily, there are some resources out there for these kids, but how is it that after so many years, and so many statistics that is issue is occurring that there is not a federal initiative to stop children being exploited? Why is this issue being swept under the rug?
According to research, the youth studied, experienced a great deal of instability, insecurity, and uncertainty in their home environment. There was little structure provided by their parents, often because their parents were struggling themselves with mental illness, substance abuse, or homelessness.
Ruby J. Martinez, RN, PhD writes in her article “Understanding Runaway Teens” in (JCAPN Volume 19, Number 2, May, 2006), Mental illness (such as conduct disorder, depression, dysthymia) was identified in 50% to 73% of youth in runaway samples (Ayerst, 1999; Booth & Zhang, 1997; Rohr, 1996) and in 53% of teens in a juvenile justice sample (Shelton, 2001). This means that juveniles that end up on the street by being (thrown away) from their parents, and they have these mental disorders, this makes them more susceptible to exploitation. Exploitation can be in any form mentioned previously; activities ranging from pimping out girls for prostitution, taking boys and using them for pornographic images; and or lewd acts or drug trafficking. With few legitimate ways of supporting themselves on the streets, many homeless youth and young adults end up engaging in survival sex or are coerced into sex work by pimps as a last resort for survival on the streets (Family and Youth Services Bureau, 1995; Haley, Roy, Leclerc, Boudreau, & Boivin, 2004; Silbert & Pines, 1981; Tyler, Hoyt, Whitbeck, & Cauce, 2001b; Weisberg,