Trying to Go It Alone: Runaway Adolescents and Teens
home. Family. The ideal is that these words evoke a sense of well-being-feelings such as love, understanding, acceptance, and security. However. the reality is that for many of us, especially adolescents and teens, these words trigger negative feelings-fear, anxiety, dread-and an urgent desire to escape. The most recent statistics available indicate that between 1.6 and 2.8 million youths run away each year in the United States. That means one out of every seven children in this country will run away before the age of 18 . Included in these numbers are not just runaway but also "throwaway" children, youth. who have been forced out of their homes by parents or guardians, or, because they have turned 18, forced out of a foster care system. What happens to humans' socialization when, as youths. they must fend for themselves to meet their own physical and emotional needs? The images in this essay give you a chance to look at the lives of runaways, from risk factors and precipitating events to means of survival and resources, and the longer-term effects that running away or being thrown way has on individuals and their continuities. This essay also provides a glimpse of homeless children in global perspective. As you look at these images, consider the short- and long term impact that persons age 12 (sometimes younger) to 18 attempting self-sufficiency can have on a society.