One thing that really frustrated me about the article I wrote yesterday entitled, “If I were a Poor Black Kid- Response“, is that a middle-aged white guy wrote the article as if he could ever put himself in a poor black kids shoes.
The same goes for Homelessness. It is an epidemic and people become homeless for reasons that span from losing their way, to fleeing domestic violence. The economy that we’re in now leaves many people unemployed, and more underemployed.
In late February, my friend and I will begin traveling across the country by car to advocate awareness and prevention for child sexual abuse. As a victor, this cause is close to home.
After losing my business, ending a relationship, and losing my home to foreclosure, I spent the last three years homeless.
Some people don’t have good family support regardless of how they’re doing, up or down, in the red or the black.
As a mother of a teenager, I struggled with where to take my child with confidence that she would be safe. Being homeless puts you in an instant survival mode. Many people may not understand this, but you are especially protective during this time because you increase your contact with strangers.
Here’s an article about homeless teens:
I went to one family shelter with my daughter and there were boys, and men allowed there with their families. However, many shelters will not take teenage boys to “protect” the other children from possible sexual abuse.
Some of those same shelters that prohibit teenage boys from being housed, will allow men (fathers) to be there with their family. So, a teenage boy can be a threat but a grown man cannot?
The system is severely flawed. In thinking about these teenage boys, and the number of shelters that don’t take teenagers over the age of twelve, many families are turned away and must live on the street to keep their families in tact.
Many parents have to be separated from their children, despite the law which I was once told by the Chief of Social Services, that your child cannot be taken from you just because you are homeless. There are many cases that prove otherwise.
Homeless Family with Six Children
Remember the Leonard family from Houston, Texas that made the headlines because they were living in their storage unit? The children were clean, and the parents were making it work. The children were taken from them because they did not have “running” water. What in the world did they do years ago when they had to fetch water? And many rural communities still live that way.
I’m driving across the country to talk to parents about Ten Ways to Safeguard your Child from Sexual Abuse, to ask Shelters to think critically about what they can do to accommodate teenage boys in particular who need a place to live, and to urge our communities to pay attention to just how many teenagers are homeless.
By offering no assistance to the teenagers, they will end up on the street, too stressed about real life circumstances to focus on education, and could themselves end up in emotionally and or sexually abusive relationships with older more experienced street criminals.
Homeless Teenager with No Family
Many teenagers live in abandoned buildings, they steal cars to sleep in. A woman that I spoke with about volunteering at a juvenile jail in Washington DC, shared with me that many of the juveniles are homeless. She told me of a street where two vans are parked back to back.
There are teens who sleep in the van but many cannot fit and the vans are their protection from authorities so that can sleep at night. They sleep outside. Many become prostitutes as a result of their situation, and in DC about 80 percent are HIV positive.
My desire is to see homeless children safe. Many situations like the Leonard family children, they are put into the system. As a result, a large number of foster children are abused.
Does it make sense to throw these children away? If they have parents who love them, but may not be in a stable financial position, does it make sense to take them from love and put them in fear? Does it make sense to abandon people who are homeless regardless of age or family size or structure?
What can you do in your community to raise awareness about homeless teens being vulnerable to child sexual abuse?
Please leave a comment and share.
As a resource, here is an article that I found about Teenage Homelessness: