Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sixteen, Alone and without a Home; Teen Homelessness; We Need to Provide Care and Safety for Young People out on the Streets

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sixteen, Alone and without a Home; Teen Homelessness; We Need to Provide Care and Safety for Young People out on the Streets

Article excerpt

If you saw your 16-year-old daughter walking alone on Olive Street after dark, would you be concerned for her safety? Of course you would. So would I. Unfortunately, each night, thousands of young people choose life on the dark, cold, dangerous streets because they believe that is a better option than staying in their home.

That's why my wife, Donna, and I, along with over 30 executives across the region, have chosen to leave the comforts and warmth of our homes to sleep outside on the cold concrete for one night this month in solidarity with the thousands of homeless St. Louis youths.

This year, Covenant House Missouri, whose mission is to empower homeless, runaway and at-risk youths to live independently and become contributing members within our community, has reached out to the more than 2,000 young people on the streets of St. Louis city and county to offer safety, refuge and hope. Left without options or guidance, the future of these youths can result in prostitution, drug abuse, gang membership, violence, prison and even death.

How does a teenager become homeless? For most, the family environment in which they were living was scarier and more threatening for them than life on the street. Many are forced to flee their homes to escape abuse, neglect, untreated mental illness and substance abuse issues within their families. These children represent every economic, geographic and racial demographic and come from all across the region.

This week is National Homeless Awareness Week. It's a great time to acknowledge the daily struggles and dangers that homeless youth like 17-year-old Brenda face every day. Brenda became homeless because her mother left their apartment one day and never returned. She found Covenant House Missouri after walking to the library and searching "homeless kids" on the Internet. …

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