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Understanding the Impact of Neglect and Discrimination on Homeless Youth

 

Recently many non-profit organizations in Toronto arranged activities to raise funds for street youth. The donations are used to fund shelters and similar resources whose missions are to support homeless youth and increase their quality of life. However, many of these resources are under-utilized due to the discrimination and lack of acceptance the homeless youth experience. These negative feelings may arise from experiences from unwelcoming landowners, employers or peers. The majority of people often assume that homeless youth run away from home in an act of rebellion, therefore they are unwilling to support the youth. Street youth actually have no choice but to abandon their home due to abuse, neglect or other health threats. Soon after leaving, the youth realize that the streets offer nothing better. They are vulnerable to substance abuse, sexual harassment, violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and unemployment, to name a few, leaving them with an increased risk of de

veloping mental illnesses. On the other hand, youth with strong survival skills struggle to balance school, work and finding a home. The youth are faced with challenges often when they met with employers who are not open to hiring them. These youth try their very best to accomplish their goals and aspirations but because of discrimination and the many challenges they lose hope. It is evident that developing their personal skills needed to support themselves, is one resolve to homelessness. But beyond that, we as community members need to provide opportunity for them to improve those skills by giving them equitable access to education, employment and by building their self-esteem. For example, you can volunteer to be a mentor to increase their social and employment network, helping them become productive members of society in the future. It is easy for us to utter the words “youth hold the future,” but when these streets kids are ignored and not given the way to achieve that "

future,” those words mean nothing. The homeless youth should not be blamed for their situation; rather society should take action to do something about their situation. We who are fortunate must understand their situation and experiences to end the vicious cycle of homelessness in our city.

 

By:

Yvonne Lesaca

Helen Lin

Abby Saavedra

Nicole Paxton

Nancy Rotuk

Ryerson Collaborative Nursing Degree Program!

http://www.ryerson.ca/home.html

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