Run Away

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By April McGowan

Have you ever seen a young person on the street, asleep under old newspapers, or panhandling? How about walking up and down an area, looking available? The plight of homeless teens on the streets is largely over-looked. But, have you ever wondered what drove them there in the first place?

That was the question I had in mind when I wrote my novel, Jasmine. First, what sort of thing would force a fourteen year old to run away—and then, how did she survive? What would have become of her?

There are many reasons young people live on the streets—and none of them have to do with fun. Most of them are escaping from something (verbal/physical/sexual abuse/neglect) and running to a place that ends up putting them in even more danger (drugs, sex trafficking, crime, imprisonment, perpetual homelessness, disease). Here are some facts gathered from The National Clearinghouse On Families and Youth:

Every day, approximately 1.3 million runaway, thrown away, and homeless youth live on the streets of America. Children, both boys and girls, are solicited for sex, on average, within seventy-two hours of being on the street. Approximately fifty-five percent of street girls engage in formal prostitution; seventy-five percent of those work for a pimp. About one in five of these children becomes entangled in nationally organized crime networks and is forced to travel far from home and isolated from friends and family. A girl will first become a victim of prostitution between the ages of twelve and fourteen, on average.

If you’re like me, all those statistics feel overwhelming. What can you do? First, if you know a young person in trouble, get involved. Encourage them to reach out to professionals that can help them. Secondly, support organizations out there doing the work to get them back off the street and making safe havens. Please donate to the Portland Rescue Mission’s Shepherd’s Door (designate women and children’s recovery) and at Door To Grace . Both of these incredible ministries aid in rescuing, healing and restoring.

~April McGowan

April McGowan loves to read and write inspirational fiction. Her novel, Jasmine, releases digitally in June and to paperback in September. She and her husband, two children, and her ‘mews’, Spookers, live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. April is a member of Oregon Christian Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing, homeschooling her two children, or playing board games, you might find her at her drum kit, imagining she’s on a world tour. Hey, it could happen. Follow her blog at http://aprilmcgowan.com

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