Miley Cyrus's Moonman Acceptance

If you’re reading this, it means you, like most other teens and myself, have internet access. This also means you’re most likely on your laptop or smartphone. You’re probably one of the teens fortunate enough to have a home to go to at night. In the US alone, there are 1.3 million homeless youths. That number equals the amount of people living in the state of Maine or in San Diego, CA. 1.3 million people under the age of eighteen that don’t have anywhere to go at the end of the day. 1.3 million people without the luxury of internet access that we take for granted.
   Imagine life without laptops or phones, or beds or running water at your disposal, or safety from street crimes, or knowing where your next meal is coming from. This, for me at least, seems impossible. Yet, 1.3 million homeless youth are surviving like this. These kids fight for their lives every day and that’s not easy. They are not only going through the struggles of being a teenager: trying to find themselves as a person, and dealing with emotional changes; they are also trying to support themselves on the streets.

Miley Cyrus and Jesse Helt with her Moonman at the VMA's | Image found here
Since Miley Cyrus’s opt-out of an acceptance speech at the VMA’s in order to shine the spotlight on homeless youth last weekend, people across the globe have been wondering what it’s actually like to be a youth on the streets. The facts of the matter are heart-wrenching; a teen, not yet an adult, living on the streets, just hoping to make it to the next day. Homeless youth are more likely to drop out of school, which would make finding a job difficult. This means resorting to other means to survive on the streets. Selling drugs and "survival sex" - the exchange of sex acts for food, clothing, shelter, etc. - are often what homeless teens have to do because not many jobs are available based on their age and low skill-level.
   Although homeless teens have their lack of a permanent residence in common, there are a variety of reasons why they ended up on the streets or in shelters. Most youths leave home because of family problems - 40% of homeless teens identify as LGBT - but other causes of homelessness are outgrowing the foster care-system and financial problems. These teens are scared, vulnerable, and in need of help. You, an average teen, can help these 1.3 million teens. By donating to My Friend’s Place, Covenant House, or StandUp For Kids, you will be helping these teens have a temporary shelter and eventually a home. So, for a second, consider life without iPhones and central heating, and think about how you would really appreciate a bed to rest on at night.