In San Diego County, more than 22,000 students have been identified as experiencing homelessness, and nationally 1.3 million children and youth have been identified as homeless. For a variety of reasons, many of these youth are on the street because they are not permitted to return home. To raise awareness and encourage support for these students, the San Diego County Board of Education has designated November as National Runaway and Homeless Youth Month. (See board resolution)
Here are some important facts about runaway and homeless youth, and what you can to do to assist these students.
- National Runaway and Homeless Youth Month has been recognized by the California State Legislature for the last nine years. At the national level, Runaway Prevention Month started in 2002 after President George W. Bush hosted a White House conference on Exploited and Runaway Children.
- Between the ages of 13 and 25, 4.2 million people will endure some form of homelessness every year. At least one out of every 30 students will experience homelessness in a year.
- Based on the latest report to Congress, nearly 30% of all homeless youth in the US are living in California without a safe place to call home.
- Public schools in San Diego county identified 645 youth who were homeless and unaccompanied (not in the care of a parent or guardian) last year.
- Running away or being forced to leave home decreases the likelihood that a youth will graduate from high school by 10%.
- Youth are often forced to abandon their education prior to completion as a result of their homelessness.
- Lack of a high school diploma increases a young person’s risk of homelessness by 346%.
- Nearly half (48%) of callers to the National Runaway Safeline report having been kicked out of their homes.
- The two most common reasons cited for being kicked out of home by young people are
1) family conflict over LGBTQ status, and 2) pregnancy.
- LGBTQ youth have a 120% higher risk of experiencing homelessness.
- Homelessness is the largest risk factor for commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors.
- Young people who have been in foster care are 3 to 10 times more likely than their peers to experience homelessness.
How You Can Help
- Think about homelessness and homeless youth differently. Show more respect to peers and strangers in unstable living situations.
- Research local organizations that serve youth. The Nov. 21 Rally and Resource Fair at Waterfront park is a good place to start. Contact Susie Terry for more information.
- Ask who your school or district's homeless liaison is. See how you can support homeless students.
- Host a drive: Find out the items your area schools or community agencies need most and take up a collection.
- Volunteer: Locate organizations in your community that serve homeless youth and offer up your time or talents.
- Write an article: Research youth homelessness in your community and write an article for your school or local newspaper.
- Send letters: Identify your state or federal legislators and write to them and ask that they support homeless youth.
- Share this information with your community.
National Runaway Safeline: 1-800-runaway (24/7 and confidential)
Chat, forums, and email available at the National Runaway Safeline website.
California Coalition for Youth crisis line: 1-800-843-5200 (call or text 24/7)