A new study from the Journal of Research on Adolescence shows that newly homeless young people, often called “runaways,” stand a fighting chance of finding stable housing and leaving the streets with family support. Furthermore, most homeless young people return home soon after they leave home and in terms of adolescent development, are possibly less chronically troubled than their reputation indicates.
This study is published in the December 2009 issue of the Journal of Research on Adolescence. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact email@example.com.
As young people enter adolescence, the emotional and behavioral responses are much more intense than they were previously or will be in the future. Parent-child conflict increases during adolescence. “Running away” is a response to parent-child conflict. The presence and continuation of strong, persevering, maternal support significantly increases the likelihood of an adolescent exiting a homeless situation.
This finding goes against the grain of what most people envision a homeless teenager’s life to be, a life filled with maltreatment, substance abuse, disorganization, conflict and violence. Lead researcher Dr. Norweeta G. Milburn says, “The need for family-based interventions for newly homeless young people to deter them from becoming chronically homeless is vital based on our research.”
The study was conducted over two years and over ninety percent of the adolescents were housed under stable conditions at some point during the course of the study. Almost fifty percent remained housed over two years. The prospect of exiting homelessness is influenced by a variety of factors, including positive and negative relationships with family, peers, social service representatives, and formal institutions such as school and health care facilities.
The pathways of homeless young people out of homelessness are better understood using a model (Risk Amplification and Abatement Model, RAAM) that tracks negative and positive social experiences. The success of this model indicates a stronger need for early intervention and family-based resources which, along with policy, can work as a safety net for young homeless people.
To view the abstract for this article, please click here.