Very different indeed. A bit hard to process for some, so let’s paint a picture of the reality of kids on the street. Many issues certainly, here are a few:
Physical Abuse: most kids are fleeing domestic violence. Hard as street life is, it’s viewed as better than ‘home’.
Substance Abuse: if it hasn’t already started, it comes into the picture big time when the kids hit the streets. It begins as self-medication to try to deal with pain of whatever they are facing. Then it turns into a physiological thing and then the kids need to maintain so as not to go into withdrawal.
All alone: Even though they hang out in larger groups for safety, each of these ‘tough kids’ is just a kid, like the kid across the street from you, who has HAD to put on an image in order to survive. It is a mask, necessary for survival. No support, no one to help, none. None.
Violence: is a part of it all, along with ‘survival tactics’ that are less than pretty: prostitution, drug use with needles and prescriptions and whatever else comes to hand, even running drugs for the ‘boss’ man.
We deal with these issues, portrayed through kids who mostly never had a fair chance because of their background. So we love on them, encourage them in the smallest things you can imagine, build self-esteem whenever we can, and really, just try to hang on to them.
Statistics report that there are a few levels of socio-economic backgrounds of kids on the streets, but guess what? The pimps, dealers and other exploiters, really do NOT care. They see a source of income, a piece of meat to ‘sell’, a means to their own selfish ends.
They come to us. They come every week. They have no other place to go that is positive, encouraging and supportive.
Yea, it’s hard work, and it really hurts sometimes, but we believe in these kids with all of our hearts.