National Runaway Prevention Month: Homeless Youth and Abuse

A young person carrying a knapsack and walking away.

Each year, tens of thousands of youth lack stable housing. While living alone on the street, youth can become victims of violence, develop serious mental health and addiction problems, and break the law while attempting to meet basic needs. In their effort to find safe lodging and social services, many youth rely on friends and adults.

To highlight how friends, family, community members, and educators can offer support to youth in need, this year’s National Runaway Prevention Month theme is “Friends Helping Friends.”

Each week, along with the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), NCFY will share content on topics that impact runaway and homeless youth. Our goal is to equip you with resources to become better allies to youth in need. This week’s theme is abuse, a common factor for runaway and homeless youth, both before and during their time without stable housing.

A recent study of the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Street Outreach programs found that 56.7 percent of youth, ages 14 to 21, who participated in the study had experienced physical abuse during their childhood. Similarly, in the 2016 Crisis Connection Trend Report, NRS noted that over the last decade there was a 40 percent increase in reports of abuse or neglect, with the largest increase in reports of emotional or verbal abuse.

The effects of abuse don’t disappear once a youth finds stable housing, employment, and services. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study found that trauma experienced in childhood can cause problems with a young person’s health and well-being in adulthood.

To learn more about this week’s theme and statistics about runaway youth and abuse, explore the National Runaway Safeline’s National Runaway Prevention Month Toolkit.

Check the NCFY website over the next few weeks for more runaway prevention topics and resources.

November 7: Trafficking

November 14: System-involved youth

November 21: LGBTQ Youth


More on Runaway Youth and Abuse

More Youth Seeking Help Cite Abuse and Neglect, New Report Says

Trauma-Informed Care Online Training

Ten Questions to Screen Runaway Youth for Sexual Abuse

Screening and Assessment Tools for Runaway and Homeless Youth

Matthew Doherty on Ending Youth Homelessness in 2020

9-5 pm Eastern