Tips to Help At-Risk, Runaway Youth

<b>Tips to Help At-Risk, Runaway Youth</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – The recession may be over in the minds of economists, but its impact on American youth continues to linger. Since the recession began, the number of youth turning to the streets has risen. The National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) has seen an increase of more than 200 percent since 2006 in the number of crisis callers to its 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline from or about youth who identify economics as a reason for their call.

But help is available for those who have run, are thinking of running or have become homeless as a result of the economic downturn.

“We rely heavily on volunteers to handle crisis calls in our call center, but our network of help extends to communities around the country through our Street Team program,” said Maureen Blaha, NRS executive director. “Anyone can go to 1800RUNAWAY.org and apply to be a Street Team member and begin helping families and youth in their community.”

Members of the Street Team, which consists of teens and adults, raise awareness and provide information to youth who are thinking of running away or those who have already left home. Supplying at-risk youth with resources may encourage them to seek help when they need it most. It is estimated that between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away each year in America. According to Blaha, some at-risk youth feel that running away is the only solution instead of reaching out for help.

Blaha offers the following tips to individuals interested in becoming a Street Team member and helping at-risk youth in their community:

* Distribute educational materials in schools, churches, community centers and local businesses.

* Encourage your child’s school to discuss running away in the classroom, and dedicate an area to house resources for youth who may need help. NRS’ Let’s Talk: Runaway Prevention Curriculum is available at www.1800RUNAWAY.org.

* Coordinate a fundraising campaign, awareness initiative or education program at your school, workplace, church or community center.

* Recruit others to get involved and start a Street Team in your area.

* Use social media, such as Facebook and YouTube, to get the word out to youth in need.

* Encourage your school and local newspapers to feature an article on runaways and homelessness.

* Participate in National Runaway Prevention Month. Each November, Street Teams coordinate events and activities that raise awareness about the runaway issue and educate people about solutions and prevention.

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