The Silence of the Displaced Calls for Public Awareness

The+Silence+of+the+Displaced+Calls+for+Public+Awareness

courtesyof theirishtimes.com

Leyla Gomez, Rookie Reporter

It’s standard for children and adolescents to live with their parent(s) or guardian(s) until a minimum age of 18.

A problem that I’ve noticed coming into my adolescence is conflict arising between high school students and their adults. That concept alone is completely understandable–raging hormones, the extreme desire for independence and freedom, and the misguided idea of being “grown” and how they somehow fit the definition. A majority of adults are trying to keep their kids from going off the beaten path so they can graduate and start a real life without being a freeloading money sucker. No doubt, tension is inevitable.

However, what isn’t so understandable is the severity of some cases. I’ve come across multiple students whose difficulty with their adults has gotten so bad that they have been kicked out and forced to stray on their own. 

What I came to find in my research for this piece was there is almost no information on teens alone in homelessness because of being exiled. I searched around 15 subjects all surrounding highschool- age students being kicked out–percentages, resources, other stories, looking for any kind of information on how many teens struggle with this every year and things they could do to help themselves. 

Unfortunately all I really came across was the legalities of 18 year olds being kicked out, which doesn’t fit what I was looking for because 18 is a legal adult; therefore they have more rights. A good majority of what I also found was youth homelessness that includes their family. My target is the students that are 14-17; This age range because it’s an age coming into young adulthood where influence is really easy, they tend to become more sheltered in themselves, and they have virtually no power. Any age younger than 18 has no legal responsibilities for themselves unless they’re emancipated. They couldn’t even plead guilty or not guilty to a crime without a guardian’s consent. 

My cause for concern in this issue is not only my own story, but the story of peers as well. My first time being kicked out was just before my sophomore year, and my older brother Elijha who was 17 at the time bought his first car, so of course we always wanted to be out driving and seeing our friends. We wanted to feel our life separate from the life we had with our mom. Despite my mom’s assumptions, we genuinely weren’t out doing things we shouldn’t, unless you consider getting fat and playing groundies in the dark bad. 

On one particular night we, (my brother Elijha (17), and my brother Angel (19), and myself 15) got hungry, as people tend to do, and decided to go to Denny’s. Around 10 p.m., our phones were being blown up by our mom, the usual, “If you want to act grown, act grown somewhere else.” We tried reasoning that we just went to get some food, and she kept reasoning that we were lying, so we insisted on bringing food back for her, and we did. 

Upon coming home, my brother went downstairs, and I was upstairs in my room. When I came out, my brother was walking out of the house with big black trash bags of his things. This wasn’t my first time seeing my brother like this- it was the third. At that moment, I decided I wouldn’t go months being separated from my brother like I had in the past. For that third time, we left together and it wasn’t the last. For the next week, we slept in a hotel one night, a friend’s couch one night, another friend’s house one night, and the rest we slept in Angel’s car. Of course we were eventually welcomed back home. 

My second time being kicked was with my brother again. I lived with his grandma for a while until coming home when my grandfather got sick and passed away. Then months later I was kicked out again and lived with my uncle for a month. 

So from being 15 to 17, I was kicked out a few times, and now, still only 17 I decided to leave on my own and move in with a friend. In these times of difficulty I was greatly impacted mentally. Often wanting to sleep for an unacceptable amount of hours and continuously searching for unhealthy remedies to take my mind off of my problems. All of which led to regretful decisions that I now have to live with.  

Upon searching for more personal experiences like my own, I came across someone who is my age. During her time of being kicked out, she stayed with friends during that time. Her school situation was already rocky, but after being kicked out it went into a complete downward spiral. She as a senior is making up for it, with career exploration and about six Edgenuity (online credit recovery) courses. 

The second interview I did was with a girl younger than me (15). She was kicked out for her dating situation. When this happened, I didn’t see her at school for weeks. She revealed to me that she was staying in Greeley, about an hour away, with a friend of her mother. When she came back to school, she was failing most of her classes. Now, almost two months after her returning home, she’s still struggling to get her grades back up. She is still struggling with her mom and stepdad and continuously gets threatened to be kicked out again. 

In situations like this, it takes a serious toll on a student. Physically displaced and serious emotional turmoil. The second interviewee has personally consoled me and I’ve stood in the hallway while hugging her before wiping her tears. Out of personal experience I know the stress, anger, and sadness that come with  this situation make it excruciatingly hard to have the drive to move forward. For some, school can be a sanctuary; for others, the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, to go to school, to pick up a pencil and do any work at all is completely disintegrated. 

At this age, school is seen as the absolute priority, graduation is the goal. But in a situation of displacement, school can be tanked and it’s extremely difficult to fix that. Kids in this situation are forced to be concerned about where they’re going to sleep (my brother has even slept in parks), who they can trust, how they can do their homework with no home. 

Not only is this situation somber, but it’s also illegal. Unless emancipated, a child under

18 living without their parent or support (money) of a parent is considered neglected. Not that legalities are the point, just an informal statement. Also on the informal side; what can be done as an aide. Schools can provide bus passes and reimbursements for gas so a student has a way to and from school. A student’s right to stay in their school is protected by the Mckinny Vetnto Act, the bus passes and gas reimbursements are also covered by this. Schools can also provide food, either free and reduced lunch or like my school, “grub club” which provides snacks and small microwavable meals. The school also has the power to waive certain fees, class fees for example. It’s important to communicate the situation so help can actually be provided, counselors and administrators can be some of the biggest supporters to a student in need.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

In this situation, awareness is key. The actual number of kids that go through this is unknown, this problem isn’t spoken of because adults don’t want to come out and say they kicked out their kids, and teens don’t even like to talk about their problems, especially not the serious ones. It’s a complete life altering event, most severely impacting education and mentality. Blind eyes could just see these people like they’re slipping up as teens tend to do; eyes should be open to the severity of this situation, eyes should be open to the difficulty, eyes should be open to the fact that some underage kids are forced to fend alone and be hit by a train of depravity in silence.