Homelessness shouldn’t be a barrier to getting an education

Posted: October 6, 2010 in Children, Compassion, Homelessness, Misconceptions
Tags: ,

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.

  1. milagros369 says:

    Of the 1,372 homeless children in SLO County, 988 of them are in school. In 1965, at the age of 13, I became a runaway teenager (& thus homeless) due to domestic violence. That is the situation for a lot of the teens, who we see alone on the streets. I spent 5 years of my young life hitch hiking around the country off & on, from home to Georgia, from home to Arkansas, then (w/ money from summer jobs) by train or bus to New York and Washington, D.C. It was next to impossible to stay focused in school & was a miracle that I managed to graduate. I even became homeless as a graduate student. Thank you for bringing attention to this, Michael, I’m not sure that the general public actually understands the scope of the problem or the long-lasting effects on children – this experience can definitely result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

  2. poorlocavore says:

    My children’s former district (we moved over the summer) takes this issue seriously as well: (I hope the link works!) With over 500 homeless kids in the district, it is a definite concern to keep these young people safe, motivated, and well-served.

  3. Abe says:

    There is an excellent documentary out of Calgary, Alberta called “Home Safe Calgary” that does a great job of profiling the challenges faced by homeless families (http://www.skyworksfoundation.org/documentaries/productions/hs_calgary/index.html). I showed this to my 3rd year Nursing class and it created some intense dialogue.

  4. Jim Hagen says:

    Why are there homeless children? Who is solving that problem?

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