Teen Homelessness

Teen homelessness is a thorn in society’s side that if left unchecked can have detrimental results on society’s future. Teenagers are the adults of the future and they need to be allowed the chance to grow up in a suitable environment, not on the streets. Teen homeliness is a problem that can be solved. The sight of teens on the streets huddled around a fire might not be the image that comes to the mind of most people, but sometimes that is actually the case. Teens are rarely depicted as homeless in media, so not many people are aware of the problem or worst; they do not see it as a problem at all. Many people are against teen homelessness but are unable to combat the problem because they lack the knowledge about the causes of teen homelessness. Psychologists John Thibault and Harold Kelley created a theory that can help many people understand why a teen would leave home. Social Exchange theory focuses on “relationship behavior and status regulated by both parties’ evaluations of perceived rewards and cost of interaction with each other” (Griffin 117). When applying the theory to teen homelessness it is easy to see that in most cases teens are homelessness. Teens decide that rewards of leaving the home outweigh their current situation, so they decide to leave. One of the most prominent causes of teen homelessness is physical abuse.

Slaps, punches and kicks are some of the things that have plagued teens that are on the streets due to physical abuse. Everyone has a breaking point in which they get fed up with their current situation. Social Exchange Theory states that people are highly likely to leave a situation if they believe that there are current or future alternatives that are better. Due to Social Exchange Theory it is easy to see why a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study found that 46% of homeless youth escaped a home where they suffered physical abuse. This quote is important because it shows that almost half the homeless teens that were victims of physical would rather enter the journey of life on the streets than endure at home. Many guardians believe that physical violence is a way to controlling the teen but that is actually counterintuitive. Rather than acting in the guardian’s desired manner, many teens attempt to escape. NISMART-2 reported that over 20% of youth of the homeless youth that the reported were physically or sexually abused at home in the prior year or feared abuse upon returning home (Hughes, Wright 104). This quote not only shows that physical abuse is a reason why teens leave home but it also shows that teens remain homeless and not return home because of fear of further physical abuse.

Teen homelessness is a serious issue. As I grow older and increase my resources I will try to help deal with the problem. I will donate my money and time to eradicate teen homelessness. With the help of others I know that we can stop this problem.


Griffin, Emory A. "Chapter 9: Social Penetration Theory." A First Look at Communication Theory. 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2012. 117-19. Print.

Hughes, Josiah, and Isiah Wright. Runaway and Homeless Youth. New York: Nova Science, 2010. Print.