Homeless Youth in TO on the Rise

Homeless teens increase and so does substance abuse

Why are teens turning to drugs?

Young teens living on the streets face traumatic experiences and struggle to survive. 80% are turning to drugs or alcohol on the streets to cope with a difficult life . This is a rising problem in Toronto today. For teens like Dylan Wallace it becomes harder and harder on the streets everyday. " I started abusing painkillers after I got beaten and robbed in a bad part of town".

Statistics of the Homeless Youth

There are approximately 10,000 homeless youth in Toronto. 65% of homeless youth fail to finish high school. This is a major problem because it is very hard for them to get out of the cycle. 77% of homeless youth are unemployed. They leave home and live on the street, don't go to school, don't graduate, can't get a job, don't earn or have money, and can't afford a place to live, therefore live on the street. In Toronto, the average youth lives on the street for 1.5 years. This is terrible because the longer they live on the street the worse their mental and physical health decreases. They are also at more risk for abuse and criminal involvement.

Many homeless youth leave home to escape situations where they are bullied or feel they don't belong. One in five homeless youth are LGBTQ and 34% of them consider suicide. The death rate of homeless youth is approximately 40 times the rate of youth with a home. The main cause of death is suicide and drug overdose.

70% of the clients at Toronto's Covenant House left home because of parents substance addiction, neglect or abuse. In Theories of Relativity, Dylan experience parental abuse and was kicked out of his home. Dylan struggled to feel wanted by his parents and cause him to be extremely unhappy and probably depressed.

How youth can break the homeless cycle

Homeless youth can get out of the cycle by going to a homeless agency like Covenant House. Covenant House provides crisis care which includes safe shelter, food, a warm bed and clean clothes. They also provide support like healthcare, pastoral care, drop in centre and a mental health day program. Their on-site high school, job preparation and training programs teach independence. This homeless youth agency also provides after care and prevention programs.

Dylan did not go to an agency such as this but he did get support other ways. He was lucky to not have bad influence because he found good friends and support on the street. He got a job at a school which provided him with some money to support himself. The job gave Dylan some hope for the future.