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First-Ever Survey on Homeless and Runaway Youth in Connecticut

PHOTO: Stacey Violante Cote, attorney at Center for Children’s Advocacy, says interviews of homeless youth in Connecticut shows a range of dangerous behaviors. Photo courtesy of Cote.
PHOTO: Stacey Violante Cote, attorney at Center for Children’s Advocacy, says interviews of homeless youth in Connecticut shows a range of dangerous behaviors. Photo courtesy of Cote.
December 12, 2013

HARTFORD, Conn. – Invisible No More is the name of a presentation in Hartford today of the first-ever study of runaway and homeless youth in Connecticut.

The research team interviewed 98 young people between 14 and 24 years of age. Most were found in youth shelters.

Stacey Violante Cote, an attorney with the Center for Children's Advocacy and chair of Reaching Home Youth Workgroup, says the youth exhibited a not-unexpected range of dangerous behaviors regarding drugs, drinking, suicide and sex.

"For 23 percent of these kids, their first sexual contact is under age 12, and we find that very concerning," Cote says.

Youth advocates are calling for more services to both prevent homelessness and provide for youth who are homeless.

Researcher Derrick Gordon points out one element of Connecticut's system of providing for the homeless that he says actually creates homeless youth.

"So if you are a family who is homeless and you have a teenage son going into a shelter, most shelters do not accept the young man," he explains.

Gordon says most of those interviewed were found in youth shelters, but those young people also identified friends in similar situations, though they often don't consider themselves homeless if they are crashing on a friend's couch. He adds that many more homeless youth are struggling to survive in Connecticut, but complete numbers are not available.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT