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date: 03 December 2022

Runaway and Homeless Youthslocked

Runaway and Homeless Youthslocked

  • Sanna J. ThompsonSanna J. ThompsonSchool of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin


Runaway and homeless youth may be viewed as subcategories on a continuum of familial disengagement and residential instability. Runaway youth are typically identified as those who leave or are forced from their homes, often returning in a relatively short time. Homeless youth are those with no stable residence, have limited contact with family, and have become affiliated with the culture of homelessness. This entry provides background on specific policies associated with youth who run away or become homeless. Characteristics of these two groups (runaway and homeless youth) are described in terms of high-risk characteristics, such as educational difficulties, substance abuse, victimization, and trauma. Service options to meet the needs of these youth are described and implications for social work practice discussed.


  • Children and Adolescents
  • Populations and Practice Settings

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