Father Chris Riley from Youth Off the Streets has shared a few myths about homeless young people:
Myth #1: People often think that young people make the decision to be homeless because they are rebelling against their parents’ house rules.
Debunking the myth: This couldn’t be further from the truth. The most common cause of youth homelessness (and homelessness in general) is domestic and family violence. If a young person feels threatened enough at home, they’ll risk the dangers of the street rather than remain in a violent household. Living on the streets can be extremely dangerous; that’s why a young person’s decision to leave their home is not taken lightly.
Myth #2: Young people experiencing homelessness are all mentally ill.
Debunking the myth: This is just not the case. Often homeless youth are dealing with complex family issues or abuse (as mentioned above, domestic violence is the number one cause of homelessness) and need help coping with that. Being homeless doesn’t change the fact that these young people have hopes and dreams. Youth Off The Streets aims to unlock those hopes and dreams and give disadvantaged young people the opportunity to fulfill them.
Myth #3: “Homeless young people are usually deviant or criminals,” is the third misconception that incorrectly portrays homeless youth.
Debunking the myth: This false belief seems to stem from the most common misconception about youth homelessness and is equally untrue. The amount of young people that are homeless because of criminal convictions or deviant behaviour is insignificant and doesn’t make the list of ‘causes for homelessness’ in the latest AIHW Specialist Homelessness Services report for 2012-2013.
Photo: Kymberly Janisch, Flickr