When you think of starving, homeless kids, poorly dressed for the weather and living in squalor, do you think of the commercials asking for aid for the children of third world countries, believing that there is nothing so terrible happening in our own country that equals this sad plight?
It’s hard to believe there are children living here whose situation is as dire as those we see on TV, yet it is estimated that nearly 1 in 45, maybe as high as 1 in 30, children are homeless. While many people do become homeless through lack of planning and sudden change in circumstances such as job loss, children almost always are truly homeless through no fault of their own and suffer greatly for it.
There is, of course, a percentage of these kids who ran away from home or are otherwise unaccompanied, but they are still children and the cause is often still beyond anything they can control, such as mental illness or violence in the home.
Many times families with kids are more able to find room in the shelters, but that doesn’t always work out. Children can experience reprieve from the hunger and exposure during school hours, yet still suffer greatly for being homeless.
- They are sick more often with ear infections and tummy aches.
- They are more likely to be exposed to violence at a very young age.
- They are more likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems
- They are more likely to have asthma
- They are more likely to suffer nutritional deficiencies and go hungry
- They are more likely to have poor attendance and change schools a lot
- They are more likely to not attend school, the only place they are truly accounted for.
- They are more likely to have delayed development
- They are more likely to suffer depression and anxiety
As they grow older and remain homeless, they are more likely to be exposed to risky sexual behavior and have a higher chance of picking up STDs and being exposed to addictive substances.
These are just some of the effects homeless children experience. All children deserve a roof over their head and food to eat and security of home and family while they grow up. How they are affected by the lack of these things is detrimental to their well being.
The plight of children in third world countries is sad and real, but the plight of homeless children here in this country is just as real and even sadder in that so many choose to ignore it.