More than 60 percent of runaway and homeless teenagers in shelters and transitional-living facilities were physically or sexually abused by their parents, the results of a national survey show.
The study, based on a survey of 170 federally funded agencies that provide basic shelter and other services to runaway and homeless youth, found that many of these teenagers have longstanding problems that would make it difficult for them ever to return home.
The survey was conducted by the National Association of Social Workers under a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The study found that 38 percent of the teenagers had been in foster care some time during the previous year, that 20 percent had come from directly from a foster or group home, and that 11 percent had been living on the street before coming to a shelter.
According to the survey, 29 percent of the teenagers reported having parents who had problems with alcohol; 24 percent of the parents were drug abusers. The teenagers, whose average age was 15, often had their own mental and social problems to contend with as well. One-fifth of the adolescents reported having attempted suicide, one-quarter had mental-health problems, and 23 percent were drug abusers, the study found.
Workers at more than 80 percent of the shelters said that the problems faced by runaways have changed over the years. Today’s problems include more drug and alcohol abuse by both parents and children, greater economic problems, and more mental-health and school-related problems.
A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 1992 edition of Education Week as National News Roundup