Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. Characteristics of Help-Seeking Street Youth and Non-Street Youth. Definitions of Street Youth


The definitions of runaway, throwaway, and homeless youth used by the National Runaway Switchboard are based on definitions from the first National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, conducted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (NISMART-1; Finkelhor, Hotaling, & Sedlak, 1990), and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act as amended by the Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children Protection Act in 1999. The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (42 U.S.C. 5701 note) defines the term homeless youth as referring to an individual, not more than 21 years of age and not less than 16 years of age, for whom it is not possible to live in a safe environment with a relative and who has no other safe alternative living arrangement. Runaway is defined as any youth who, without permission, leaves home and stays away overnight, or, if away from home, chooses not to come home when expected. Finally, children and youth who are denied housing by their families or prevented from returning home by a parent or other household adult may be referred to as throwaway (U.S. Department of Education, 2004) or thrownaway children or youth (Hammer, Finkelhor, & Sedlak, 2002). The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act uses the term street youth to refer to both homeless youth and runaway youth. For clarity, in this study, the term street youth will be used as a general term to refer to runaway, homeless, and throwaway youth.[1]

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