Written By: Brigitte J. Rogers
A young boy approached the ocean for the first time. The thrill of the unknown filled him with excitement. He walked slowly toward the edge of the water cautiously tapping his toes on the wet sand. A wave rolled in and broke over his tiny feet. The unexpected flush of cold water startled the boy. Immediately he ran back to his mother. The familiarity of her body offered him a strong sense of security. Once he had the reassurance he needed, the boy returned to the ocean. The waves continued to crash over his feet again and again. Each time he ran back to where he felt safe. This went on for most of the day. But with every wave, he lingered a little longer and little closer to the edge.
Witness a typical child at play and instantly you will become aware of the curiosity, the instinct to learn, the desire to evolve. You will find resilience, freedom and a sense of security. This type of behavior comes naturally to a child. But, without the safety of a stable home it becomes less organic and more of a challenge.
One in 30 children in America will go to bed in a shelter, camp ground or on the streets. In a recent report by the National Center on Family Homelessness titled “America’s Youngest Outcasts”, it has been estimated that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013.
Major distress resulting from homelessness or witnessing acts of violence can weaken the developing brain, leading to learning disabilities and developmental delays in young children. Homeless children are subject to health issues such as anxiety, depression, chronic diseases and malnutrition. School is often the only place where they can get a proper meal. Approximately 87% of school-age homeless children and youth are enrolled in school, although only about 77% actually attend. Homeless families struggle to find transportation to and from school. And, in some instances, a school will not register a child without proper medical records or a residential address.
Many of these homeless families are headed by a single mother. These women are unable to find jobs that pay livable wages. They often find themselves without transportation or sufficient child care. And, in many cases, have suffered some form of domestic violence.
The mind of a child is beautiful thing. It is filled with wonder, hope and innocence. As we get older we lose the ability to view the world in such a way. For these children, it is lost before the age of 5. A home is a familiar place that provides safety and security. No child should have to live without one.
For more information on how you can help please visit www.deservingdecor.org
Homeless Children: America’s New Outcasts. Newton, MA.
Impact of Homelessness on Children. http://www.doorwaysva.org/