24 Feb 2011

Sample Essay: Homeless Teens In Washington State


Understanding the Predictive Factors of Teen Homelessness

“There is a difference between being put out and being put outdoors. If you are put out, you go somewhere else; if you are outdoors, there is no place to go. The distinction was subtle but final… Knowing that there was such a thing as outdoors bred in us a hunger for property, for ownership” (Morrison, 1970).

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless (2007), homeless youth “are individuals under the age of eighteen who lack parental, foster, or institutional care. These young people are sometimes referred to as unaccompanied youth.”

More than a decade ago, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) revealed that there are approximately 100 million homeless youth worldwide and between 500,000 and 2 million homeless youth in the United States of America (Ensign & Panke, 2002). This data has not improved in the coming years. The global crisis and recession threw several families out in the streets, and the most vulnerable segments, those who neither had the education and skill were the ones frequently left behind.

A study by Ensign and Panke (2002) mentioned that of the homeless youth, adolescent women were among the most vulnerable. They are often exposed to hazardous work conditions, often forced to sell sexual favors just so to meet their daily survival needs, often deprived of basic health care, and often suffer from the stigma of homelessness from government institutions such as health centers. Aside from this, the homeless youth have to deal with substance abuse issues, HIV, and early pregnancy. Ensign and Panke (2002) added that culture and personal experiences were not pivotal in addressing the needs and concerns of homeless youth. Thus, palliative methods such as health care and food stubs are met with nonchalance – a means to survive for another day, but not as means to get out of the state of homelessness. This nonchalance is manner of coping, for it would only be through apathy and detachment, and a sense of mistrust to authorities could the homeless youth be capable of survival. To further understand this let us take a look at the basic and common experiences of the homeless youth in Washington D.C., the state which registers one of the highest cases of youth homelessness in the United States of America.

“For the destitute living on the steps of St. John’s, the Salvation Army van stops by each evening to distribute dinner (which usually consists of soup or stew, a sandwich, and hot chocolate). DC Central Kitchen, which ‘recycles’ surplus food from stores, restaurants, hotels, and other sources, prepares 4,000 meals each day. Martha’s Table, where volunteers prepare soups and sandwiches to feed approximately 1,200 homeless each day through the McKenna Wagon program, is another source of food. Many other charitable organizations and churches, along with countless volunteers, do what they can each day to feed the homeless in Washington, D.C. Every year at Thanksgiving, the TV cameras capture the images of thousands of homeless receiving a turkey dinner. The bigger challenge, though, is making sure there are meals the other 364 days of the year” (Hatfield, n.d.).

This is a stark description of homelessness in the very seat of American democracy. Because most of the time, women carry the burden of rearing an unwanted child after his/ her father has ran away, and with the needs to survive and work, children from these broken families almost always find themselves in foster homes. These children suffer from not having a permanent family, and the pressure of having to provide for oneself at the age of 18, children from foster homes are the most prominent victims of homelessness. In spite of this, there is little information about how the interplay of different factors such as race, family background, and placement records contribute to youth homelessness. As such, child welfare agencies often face dilemmas in the provision of preventive programs and services that can address the problem of homelessness among the youth (Dowrsky & Courtney, n.d.).

Dworsky and Courtney (n.d.), however have identified predictive factors for youth homelessness in their study of the American homeless youth in Washington DC. The major predictive factors include the absence of supportive and nurturing parental relationships and care from other family members and residential instability brought by foster care. Aside from this, Dworsky and Courtney (n.d.) identified common characteristics that can be found among homeless youth. These include early engagement in pre-marital sex, dropping out of school, and abuse of illegal drugs. Cohen, Mackenzie and Yates (1991) further pointed out that homeless youth “experience higher incidence of sexual abuse and prostitution and are six times more likely to be at risk for HIV infection.

Another primary cause of concern is the result of a study conducted by Cohen, Mackenzie and Yates (1991). According to them, the distorted environment in which homeless youths were reared and socialized contribute to reasons why “half of the homeless youth (that have been subject of the study) scored above borderline or clinical concern cut-offs for externalizing and internalizing disorders. The experience of homelessness therefore distorts the basic perspectives of almost the majority of homeless youths. While this cannot immediately qualify the assumption that homeless youths suffer from personality and behavioral disorders, we could also take into account the factors (which are normally absent in a healthy home environment) that lead to such disorders. While homelessness per se could not be perceived to be a direct cause of disorders among the youth, the condition itself undeniably paves the way for other predictive factors of behavioral and other personality disorders.

“Whether caused by genetic predisposition, poor prenatal care, or complications during birth, there is a growing body of evidence that many homeless youth enter childhood ‘hard-wired’ for behavior and attention problems” (Burt, 2001).

In this context, foster care plays a major factor. According to Burt (2001), children in foster care may suffer from abusive or neglectful treatments, which may hamper their natural development of trusting and fruitful attachments with other people. These children also have to endure changing school environments and thus could not be able to develop deeper attachments with other peers compared to other children with homes and families of their own. Aside from this, because foster homes only assume responsibility of the child until the age of 18, the sudden breaking of ties often leave the child with neither skill nor experience at a huge risk of homelessness.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless (2007), a significant percentage of youth become homeless because their families faced severe “financial crises resulting from lack of affordable housing, limited employment opportunities, insufficient wages, lack of medical insurance and inadequate welfare policies.” Aside from these, the children suffer from early separation from their parents as they are placed in shelters and other housing facilities to facilitate the provision of their basic needs.

In Washington D.C., one out of three children lives in poverty. It ranks first in terms of child poverty rate and family poverty rate in the United States. Because economic factors are major predictive factors for youth homelessness, it follows that the state also deals with a huge number of homeless youth and children. Washington also ranks first in terms of the rate of persons contracting HIV and AIDS – a risk that further implicates the dire living conditions of runaways and homeless youths in the area.

A 1999 survey of the Journal of Adolescent Health in Washington D.C. revealed that out of 288 homeless youth respondents, 7.6 percent have ran away from home with sexual abuse as the predominant reason. Majority of those who were sexually abused were females. While in the streets, one in three was coerced to perform a sexual act against his or her will (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2007).

The aforementioned data and statistics are the alarming features of youth homelessness in Washington D.C. and in the United States of America. While there are numerous agencies that seek to address their welfare needs, the country has a long way to go to prevent children from being homeless and from being separated from their family. Because poverty is a multi-faceted problem, addressing the problem of homelessness requires the government and civil society groups to study and look at it in a multi-sectoral perspective. Policy reforms that address the problems of low wages, lack of housing tenure security, insufficient welfare programs, and racial discrimination are only a few of the measures that can be undertaken to address the problem of homelessness. Foster care policies need also to be reviewed, considering that they have registered unanticipated consequences on the lives of the children that have been targeted by the interventions. It is likewise necessary to take into account the psychosocial impact of temporary placements to children who have unfortunately experienced being constantly transferred to one foster home into another, as the lack of an atmosphere of warmth and trust is also one of the major predictive factors of youth homelessness.

References

Burt, Martha, Aron, Laudan, Y., Lee, Edgar & Valente, Jesse. (2001) Helping America’s

Homeless. Washington DC: The Urban Institute Press.

Cohen, Eric, Mackenzie, Richard and Yates, Gary (1991). “A Psychosocial Risk Assessment

Instrument: Implications for Designing Effective Intervention Programs for Runaway

Youth.” Journal of Adolescent Health, 12(7): 539-544. Accessed 13 February 2011 from

www.jahonline.org

Dworsky, Amy and Courtney, Mar E. (n.d.) “Homelessness and the Transition from Fostercare

to Adulthood.” Child Welfare, 88(4): 1-35.

Ensign, Josephine and Panke, Aileen (2002). “Barriers and Bridges to Care: Voices of Homeless

Female Adolescent Youth in Seattle, Washington, USA.” Journal of Advanced Nursing,

37 (2): 166-172. Blackwell Science, Ltd.

Hatfield, Dolph L. (n.d.) The Homeless in Washington DC: Reaching out to Help the Other

Population. Accessed 13 February 2011 from www.cosmosclub.org

National Coalition for the Homeless (2007). “Homeless Youth.” NCH Factsheet # 13. Accessed

13 February 2011 from www.nationalhomeless.org

01 Oct 2009

A Christmas Carol

The Christmas Carol is a story about Scrooge, a man who hates Christmas and therefore takes it out on everybody else.  In order to keep Scrooge from falling further into his own madness and meanness he is visited one night by three ghosts that are sent to teach him what he is doing wrong and how he can fix it.  Each of the ghosts brings him into different times of his life.  The first ghost is the ghost of Christmas past, then the ghost of Christmas present, followed by the ghost of Christmas future.  The first two ghosts seem to have little impact upon Scrooge, but visions of his future affect him so greatly that come morning, he is a new man, on a mission to live life.

A Christmas Carol was written by the renowned author Charles Dickens in 1843.  Though generally dismissed as a novel of “lesser” import, A Christmas Carol reflects Dickens’ significant concern over the plight of England’s poor.  This concern can easily be understood, considering Dickens’ father spent several years in a debtor’s prison.  Most of Dickens’ family joined him there (an act unheard of in today’s society), but he was placed in a workhouse, laboring under terrible conditions.  Charles Dickens wrote other books with inspiring messages such as Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations which receive greater recognition for their literary value.  The inexplicable scholarly dismissal of A Christmas Carol seems an enigma of academic callousness and itself may make an interesting topic for academic study.

Scrooge’s nephew Fred initiates efforts to change Scrooge at the beginning of the book by inviting him to a Christmas party.  The sad state of Scrooges mentality comes from his heated refusal to participate, scolding his nephew for such frivolous activities.  Even the appearance of his recently departed business partner, Jacob Marley, has little effect.  But when the three ghosts of Christmas begin their work, the effects on Scrooge are profound.  Reminding Scrooge of what events have led him to his present state, the pain caused by his viciousness, and the consequences about to unfold for him shocks Scrooge out of his self-loathing, destructive behavior.

Dickens work reveals the deplorable conditions many of the world’s poor find themselves forced to endure.  From rampant occupational exploitation (reflected by Scrooge’s refusal to keep the office at any level of “comfort” to the limited or non-existent access to medical care (reflected in the depiction of Tiny Tim) the poor of England struggled to survive.  Comparative analysis of these themes between their depiction in the novel and today’s state of poverty can easily be drawn, revealing that though concerns for the alleviation are nothing new, major work still needs to be done.

With A Christmas Carol being on the fringe of academic significance (officially, at least), essays on it can be difficult to develop to a level acceptable by college and university instructors.  Most students would scarcely dare the attempt and those who do would be wise to seek guidance and assistance in preparing such articles.  Our staff of professional, seasoned writers tackles challenges like this every day, both with their work here, and their work on writing and publishing their own materials.  It goes without saying that students can rely on such experience.  All they need do to take advantage of its availability is place a simple order and let us should them why we are one of the most trusted writing agencies on the Internet.

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