I try to reflect this fact in Painted Black. Lexie was kicked out because her mother found the girl being molested and chose to blame the 12-year-old and not the grown man. Chris voluntarily left home, but his intentions were to make things easier on his single parent mother. Even then, however, he would go home in a heartbeat if only his Mom would ask him to.
MYTH: Youth choose to run away from home, so becoming homeless is their own fault.
FACT: Disruptive family conditions such as physical/sexual abuse and parental neglect are the primary reason that young people leave home. In one study, more than half of the youth interviewed during shelter stays reported that their parents either told them to leave or knew they were leaving and did not care(1). In another study, 46% of runaway and homeless youth had been physically abused and 17% were forced into unwanted sexual activity by a family or household member (2). Some youth may become homeless when their families suffer financial crises. These youth become homeless with their families, but are later separated from them by shelter rules, transitional housing, or child welfare policies(3). Finally, many adopted youth are forced to leave their homes when they turn 18 – this is when the benefits their adoptive parents receive stop.
Sources: (1) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (a), 1995; (2) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (c), 1997; (3) (Shinn and Weitzman, 1996).