Free Essay on Social Support and Homeless Teens

Published: 2023-01-18
Free Essay on Social Support and Homeless Teens
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Healthcare Social issue
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1631 words
14 min read

Homeless among teenagers is a serious issue facing society today. Most of the homeless youths, also referred to as the youths in transit lack parental, foster or institutional care (Kulik et al., 2011). Research conducted by Kulik et al. (2011) shows that about 1.3million teenagers reside in unsupervised streets, abandoned buildings and others live with strangers. Homelessness among the teens is a social issue since it exposes a young person to sexual abuse, mental health incapacities, substance abuse, and even death in other instances (Kulik et al., 2011). Also, the majorities of the teens run away from their birth homes due to insignificant reasons and eventually end up in the streets working in poor conditions for a living that would help sustain themselves. Therefore, this paper seeks to discuss social support and homeless teens by focusing on the health implications for every form of social support given to the group of individuals, how social relations affect the health of the teenagers in the streets both negatively and positively, the poor working conditions of the homeless teens and their overall implications on the youths. Importantly, homelessness is prevalent with most teens residing in the streets being involved in illegal activities to get a living leading to chronic illnesses that could lead to death; an issue that has attracted concerns from the social services that developed placement services and supportive housing sites that usually exposes a child to some psychosocial risk factors.

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Homeless teenagers tend to face a variety of health and wellbeing challenges. The determinants of health stipulated by the World Health Organization indicate that the economic and social conditions have a role to play in shaping the health of people and surrounding communities (Hwang et al., 2009). In addition to that, Hwang et al. (2009) indicate that the pathways leading to homelessness among the youths are complex and are usually shaped by a range of factors that result in unique circumstances for each. It is worth noting that physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are some of the factors attributed to the rising cases of homelessness among teens. Other factors may include criminality, addictions and psychiatric disorders. Among all the reasons for teen homeless discussed above, the victims are likely to bring different emotional and psychological challenges that influence their well-being and behavior. While on the streets, teenagers face various difficulties when searching for a place to reside and to gain an income. Most of them drop out of the school showing that the streets comprise of teens with a high rate of learning disability, illiteracy, poor performance in schools, and estrangement from their school peers. It is difficult for homeless people to get stable jobs. As a result, most of them settle for illegal activities that include drug dealing and theft. Others are likely to get jobs in factories and manufacturing plants that pay less for the youths to afford a proper shelter. Therefore, despite all their hard work, they end up settling in the streets or abandoned buildings.

Further, the maintenance of health is a significant challenge that affects youths in the streets. The teens have a higher chance of injury and illness while on the streets and their low-income jobs. Some engage in drug-dealing activities, theft and other criminal actions that affect their health significantly. Considering that maintaining health is a substantial challenge for street youths; a majority of the young people end up developing mental health concerns, diabetes, heart diseases, arthritis, and musculoskeletal disorders to mention a few (Kulik et al., 2011). The young people in the streets do not know how to take care of their hygiene. With this in mind, they are infested with lice, fungal infections, blisters, sores and other various illnesses (Kulik et al., 2011). As Hwang et al. (2009) indicate, the diseases mentioned above and poor nutrition, stress due to the hazardous conditions the young people reside have had a role to play in increasing their exposure to respiratory infections, diseases, and viruses. With time, this could yield chronic diseases and hence a high mortality rate among the homeless teens in the streets. According to Kulik et al. (2011), the common ailment facing homeless teenagers is usually termed as 'street sickness' that implies that the related exposure to food insecurity, deprivation of sleep, and poor personal hygiene has a role to play in contributing to constant malady. Other homeless individuals could engage in continuous and unprotected sexual encounters with different people that increase the chances for sexually transmitted infections and diseases (Kulik et al., 2011). Sex is used as a tool for youths to obtain food, money, shelter, and drugs. Such a lifestyle is harmful to the growth and developmental processes of the young people hence showing the need for social support and interventions.

Importantly, homelessness among teenagers has attracted the attention of the social services, which in turn consider placing the youths under the care of different foster institutions. According to Gwadz et al. (2018), the adjustment of a child and psychosocial development tends to vary based on the internal resources in a placement facility and the interactions between a child victim, peers, family and the environment as well. Primarily, this sheds light on the psychosocial risk factors that affect the adjustment of a child victim of homelessness when placed in a foster care facility. Research carried out by Gewirtz, Hart-Shegos, and Medhanie (2008) showed that a combination of several risk factors instead of a single one was a powerful tool for determining the mental health problems facing a young person. It is worth noting that children who end up in the streets due to chronic homelessness among families are likely to experience psychosocial risk issues that include exposure to violence and child abuse, several school placements, and hunger (Gewirtz, Hart-Shegos & Medhanie, 2008). With these varieties of risks that homeless children are usually exposed to, it would be right to expect the fact that the adjustment of a child could vary by risk exposure. Homelessness itself contributes to the adjustment challenges, and the aggregation of the associated and accrued risks could tend to be influential as opposed to homelessness in the attempts to predict a child's adjustment. A study by Gwadz et al. (2018) showed that homeless teens were likely to be exposed to recent stressors as opposed to the housed ones and would often show school and friendship disruptions. Consequently, a homeless teen who has received social support are likely to show some behavior challenges primarily when associated with the aggregated risks and parental distress that are common in foster care facilities. With this in mind, it would be right to conclude that homelessness among teenagers could be damaging to children, particularly when combined with other factors such as child abuse and neglect in foster care institutions.

Nonetheless, a few supportive housing sites are likely to demonstrate a high system efficacy, particularly in the access to mental health services for homeless children. It is worth noting that the social service department is mandated with the role of providing placement to homeless children. The lack of the required services that understand the needs of a child victim could be detrimental to their overall health. For instance, a child who has faced various traumatic experiences while living in the streets will continue dealing with the trauma in the supportive housing sites that could accumulate leading to a mental breakdown, antisocial behavior, and widespread drug use among the teens (Gewirtz, Hart-Shegos & Medhanie, 2008). A study by Gewirtz, Hart-Shegos, and Medhanie (2008) showed a lack of knowledge from the caregivers in housing supporting sites that would cater to the needs of a child. It is important to note that most of the supportive housing tends to provide a timely and underused opportunity that would address the psychosocial needs of previously homeless young students through the measures of prevention and treatment. The patterns of the different needs of a formerly homeless child as indicated by Gewirtz, Hart-Shegos, and Medhanie (2008) should be successful in that it is designed to meet the level of need of a child and addressed the different domains of adjustment for a child to avoid the health implications likely to result.


In summation, homelessness among teens is prevalent and arises due to a variety of reasons that include youths running away from their birth families due to poverty and other related factors. The children end up living in the streets, abandoned houses and are likely to engage in illegal activities such as drug dealing and theft for survival. Most of them do not take care of their health and hygiene, which results in infections and diseases that increase the mortality rate of teenagers. In that regard, the social departments have come up with placement services that place the children in different foster care institutions and supportive housing sites, particularly for teens with mental disabilities. The placement services expose a child to a variety of psychosocial risk factors that could affect their overall health, as discussed in this paper.


Gewirtz, A., Hart-Shegos, E., & Medhanie, A. (2008). Psychosocial Status of Homeless Children and Youth in Family Supportive Housing. American Behavioral Scientist, 51(6), 810-823. doi: 10.1177/0002764207311989

Gwadz, M., Freeman, R., Kutnick, A., Silverman, E., Ritchie, A., & Cleland, C. et al. (2018). Do Programs for Runaway and Homeless Youth Work? A Qualitative Exploration From the Perspectives of Youth Clients in Diverse Settings. Frontiers In Public Health, 6. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00112

Hwang, S., Kirst, M., Chiu, S., Tolomiczenko, G., Kiss, A., Cowan, L., & Levinson, W. (2009). Multidimensional Social Support and the Health of Homeless Individuals. Journal Of Urban Health, 86(5), 791-803. doi: 10.1007/s11524-009-9388-x

Kulik, D., Gaetz, S., Crowe, C., & Ford-Jones, E. (2011). Homeless youth's overwhelming health burden: A review of the literature. Paediatrics & Child Health, 16(6), e43-e47. doi: 10.1093/pch/16.6.e43

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