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Volume 12, Number 1
January/February 1996

Recognizing Signs of Stress Is the First Step In Keeping Kids from Living in the Streets


Teresa, as we shall call her, comes from a midsize New England city. Her parents divorced when she was an infant. As she entered adolescence, conflict with her parents escalated. Her stepfather threatened her. She couldn't get along with her father's new wife. School became an exercise in skipping classes, drinking, and smoking marijuana. At 13 she ran away from home for the first time.

Perhaps you've had someone like Teresa in your school: a friendly, outgoing student who suddenly stops participating, wears the same clothes day after day, and struggles to remain awake. She arrives late, leaves early, and eventually just stops coming to school. When her parents are called, they don't know where she is. Too often, they don't care.

A Way of Coping

The Administration for Children and Families estimates that at least 500,000 Americans under the age of 18 spend part of each year living apart from their parents or legal guardians. Many leave home after a fight over curfews, dating, or grades. They spend the night with a friend or relative and go home in a day or two.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

National Clearinghouse on Youth and Families, P.O. Box 13505, Silver Spring, MD 20911-3505.

National Network of Runaway and Youth Services, 1319 F Street NW, Suite 401, Washington, DC 20004.

National Runaway Switchboard, 3080 North Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60657.

"School Programs and Practices for Homeless Students." Digest no. 105 (April 1995), ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, Box 40, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.