Homeless and Runaway Youth Issues

March 05, 2018

Here at Investigation Hotline, we offer a diverse array of investigative services to our clients. One of these services involves the search and location of runaway or missing youth. With over thirty years of experience, our team of professional private detectives have the expertise and tools to locate a missing child. We are also proficient in mediating familial relationships and psychological dynamics.

If you believe your child may have run away from home, it is imperative that you seek help immediately as the ramifications of instability can have profound effects on the youth. In the following paragraphs, we explore the profound issues that homeless and runaway youth face each and every day.

In the United States, an average of 2.2 million youth run away every year. Individual and family risk factors during childhood are predictors of homelessness among young adults.

  • Youth who run away from home once are 10% less likely to graduate from high school.
  • Those who run away multiple times are 18% less likely to graduate from high school.
  • 47% of homeless/runaway youth attribute a conflict between them and their guardian as a major issue.
  • More than 50% of youth on the street or in shelters claim that their parents either demanded they leave home or knew they were leaving but did not care.

Abuse is a common theme in the lives of runaway and homeless youth. Dysfunctional family environments that involve physical, verbal or sexual abuse before the age of eighteen are correlated with increased run away rates.

  • 80% of homeless and runaway girls have been physically or sexually abused.
  • 43% of runaway children, both male and female, report having been physically abused before choosing to leave home.
  • 34% of runaway children indicate they have been sexually abused before leaving their home.

Trafficking is another serious issue at play. Youth under the age of 18 who engage in sexual acts due to fraud, coercion, or force are victims of child trafficking. This definition includes prostitution, pornography and “survival sex” - exchanging sex for basic needs. It is important to understand that even if victims seem to be engaging willingly in sexual favours, it is still considered trafficking.

  • Child victims of commercial sexual exploitation suffer severe symptoms of substance abuse, truancy, PTSD and conduct disorder compared to youth that were sexually abused but were not exposed to commercial sexual exploitation.
  • 9% of runaway children indicate that they’ve engaged in survival sex at some point in their lives.
  • 48% of homeless and runaway youth participated in commercial sex activity because they did not have a safe place to stay.

Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is also a common activity amongst homeless and runaway youth. In fact, recreational use of prescription medication is the fastest growing drug issue in America, claiming the lives of more people every year than heroin and cocaine combined.

  • 22% of homeless and runaway youth have misused prescription medication in the last month.
  • 50% of runaway and homeless youth have abused prescription medication in their lifetime.
  • There is a strong association between use of prescription drugs amongst runaway and homeless youth and the use of injection drugs. Injecting medication puts youth at a high risk of acquiring and transmitting infections like Hepatitis C and HIV.