When we think of the homeless, visions of grizzled old men and women sleeping under bridges and pushing shopping carts probably come to mind. But, there is another face to put to homeless – children.
There are currently 1.5 million homeless children in the United States (1) and the problem is only getting worse. The current state of the economy has affected hundreds of thousands of families, resulting in an increase in the number of homeless families. These families experience considerable amounts of additional stress, and while it is difficult on the parents, the children are the hardest hit. The National Center on Family Homelessness has gathered a number of statistics on the situations that face these children.
Children experiencing homelessness:
- Are sick four times more often than other children
- Go hungry at twice the rate of other children
- Have high rates of obesity due to nutritional deficiencies
- Have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral issues
- By age 12, 83% have been exposed to at least one serious violent event
- Almost 25% have witnessed acts of violence within their families
And while all of this is occurring around us, our children are safe and warm in their beds. It is important not to lose site of the situation facing many of the children in our nation. There are things that we can all do to help these children make it through these tough times in their lives:
- Volunteer with a local community organization working to end family homelessness
- Support local, state and national programs that help families get out of poverty
- Consider issues of poverty, affordable housing, violence prevention and health care when determining who earns your vote in local, state and federal elections
- Donate to organizations that are working to end homelessness in the United States
- Purchase products that donate part of their proceeds to end homelessness
- Educate others about homelessness in the United State
Together we can change the score for children experiencing homelessness. All we have to do is care and take action.