"This report discusses runaway and homeless youth, and the federal response to support this population. There is no single definition of the terms 'runaway youth' or 'homeless youth.' However, both groups of youth share the risk of not having adequate shelter and other provisions, and may engage in harmful behaviors while away from a permanent home. These two groups also include 'thrownaway' youth who are asked to leave their homes, and may include other vulnerable youth populations, such as current and former foster youth and youth with mental health or other issues. The term 'unaccompanied youth' encompasses both runaways and homeless youth, and is used in national data counts of the population. Youth most often cite family conflict as the major reason for their homelessness or episodes of running away. A youth's sexual orientation, sexual activity, pregnancy, school problems, and alcohol and drug use are strong predictors of family discord. The precise number of homeless and runaway youth is unknown due to their residential mobility and overlap among the populations. Determining the number of these youth is further complicated by the lack of a standardized methodology for counting the population and inconsistent definitions of what it means to be homeless or a runaway. Estimates of the homeless youth exceed 1 million. Estimates of runaway youth--including 'thrownaway' youth (youth asked or forced to leave their homes)--are between 1 million and 1.7 million in a given year."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33785
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html