Do We Care About Homeless Children?

My youngest son is sitting next to me, passed out on the sofa. Good thing he's not in a sleeping bag on a hard sidewalk.

Early this morning I went out for a six-mile run with my running club. We started just north of the Santa Monica Pier and ran south along the boardwalk. There are always homeless people at various places along the way, but once we crossed into Venice, today I noticed a definite uptick from the usual number.

There were the people huddled up with wads of newspaper, people in sleeping bags, families under makeshift tents--and there were children.

One little boy stood next to his sleeping bag, looking at us run by. A block down, I spied a little girl still curled up in hers, next to a man I assume was her father.

And I began to cry as I ran.

Last year I interviewed a staff person from School on Wheels, an L.A.-based nonprofit that provides educational services to homeless children. She told me that although we stereotype homeless people as older, males with drinking or mental health problems, that's not the majority of the homeless population. The average age for a homeless person in the United States is nine years old.

My heart broke this morning to see these children sleeping on the sidewalk, steps from pricey beachfront property, in a country that, despite recent hardships, is still one of the most prosperous in human history.

I can't stop thinking about what I saw, and how easily we tune it out. Sure, my son is comfortable on the sofa on a Saturday night, but how can I sleep easy when other people's children aren't so fortunate?


nick said…
I feel the same way. I have a comfortable existence (at the moment) and I can't help be aware of all the thousands of people who're struggling to have any existence at all, let alone comfortable. The average age for a homeless person in the United States is nine years old? I had no idea. That's truly shocking.

I could go on my usual rant about cossetted politicians who have no understanding of ordinary lives, but I'll desist.
Anonymous said…
Very sad and unfortunate. Speaks to the horrendous child services we hve that are understaffed and underfunded. There are a million and one issues. I worked as a therapist for survivors of domestic violence. Some mothers would have sons. Many shelters don't allow males....what's a woman to do? In DC there is ONE HOMELESS SHELTER for youth and it has a whopping 14 beds. You have to b 18 to get into a general shelter. I cant tell you how many teenagers I've talked to who were kicked out or ran away from abuse only to find themselves on the street. There is literally nowhere for them to go. So...the answer is no we don't care. We have the money to fix things I don't care how bad our ecnomy gets. The $ is being used for other things such as military spending. I also do anti trafficking work and the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 in our country. So yea. I love when people tell me that girls "choose" it. So a hot guy or a clean cut father figure (cuz pimps dnt necessarily look stereotypical w the hat and cane and greasy hair anymore) rolls up in a benz and offers to take you to lunch and you haven't eaten in three I suppose you make a survive! People like to helppeople who act like victims. So when kids develop a harsh exterior out of neccesity and curse you out in a heartbeat or don't thank you when you buy them a meal or join gangs most people just huff ungrateful bastard or call them a whore in the case of child sex trafficking and move on to another pet cause with easier to handle victims like animals or a disease that kills babies.. Its very difficult to work with and place (and make them stay) these types of kids in foster or group homes. But we have an obligation to help them...they are children no matter how grown they try to act. The difficulty also lies in keeping the kids from running away fromv situations where they are not being atmosphere of genuine love can bescary to them too. They don't know how to handle it and push ppl away or they keep running away.
Darimo said…
"The greatness of a society can be judged by how it takes care of its less fortunate."

America has had a mixed track record in this space ... sometimes we get it right, often times we don't.
Liz Dwyer said…
That stat IS shocking, isn't it. I remember when they first told me, I was floored. What scares me is that I know a LOT of people that if they lost their jobs, they'd be thisclose to being homeless. It's scary.

That's so immoral that there's only one shelter for youth with only 14 beds. Yeah, where are you going to go when there really is nowhere safe to go. Folks make tough choices to survive, and then the very people who promote the rampant individualism that lets these kinds of conditions thrive turn around and tsk-tsk them. It really really broke my heart this weekend when I saw all the kids. Just so sad.

Our society certainly isn't feeling all that great right now, because we're failing. I know folks talk all the time about how we're spending trillions on war and we have one of the highest child poverty rates in the industrialized world--if not the highest--seeing those kids just brought it all home. We really are like the fall of the Roman Empire.
BlackLiterature said…
I was actually going to comment on your por favor piece... but scrolled too far. And saw this. And cried. for the child and also for any parent who is in this situation. Because I know most of hurt deeply when our kids are hurting.

The cynic in me thinks this is going to get worse before it

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