A person pushing a shopping cart. Or perhaps, someone who is standing outside a convenience store asking for spare change. Someone sleeping in a doorway or a public bench. Someone sitting or standing along the roadside or a corner holding a cardboard sign.
Most of us are familiar with these types of homeless individuals. And because their homelessness is overtly apparent, we may mistakenly believe that they represent the "typical" homeless person. That, in turn, blinds us to the reality that there is much more to homelessness than meets the eye.
Case in point…
On Monday, I was on PBS.org website and came across a news report about the increasing numbers of children who experience homelessness each year.
The report, Increase in Homeless Pupils Poses Unique Challenge to Public Schools, outlined some of the obstacles and struggles homeless children face in receiving a quality education.
Although the report points out that families with dependant children make up approximately one-third of America’s homeless population; and that an estimated 1.3 million children experience homelessness each year, the most poignant part of the report was a statement made by one homeless student, who said:
"I want to stay, like, in one place and be stable. It makes it hard for me to study. Then I lose focus."
When asked what he thought about when he lost focus, the student replied:
"Like, how the next place is going to be, what’s the next place we’re going to live then."
The report is all of about 9 minutes long. Please, take the time to watch it.
I hope that it breaks your heart as much as it did mine. More importantly, I hope that the next time you see a homeless person, you remember that they, too, are someone’s child.