In Portland, seeing young adults like Carol Ann is rather normal. On the outside, many look happy, and the old hippie in me wants to believe they are happy. But the realist in me knows that most of our countries homeless youth are throwaways. 40 percent of homeless youth are never even reported missing.
I am glad they found a strong community. Part of me wants to believe the fairytale life these kids present. I just can feel the pain behind the smiles, and I know most of these kids don’t live in the “woods” by choice.
I have said this a few times. I wish someone would do research to find out how many street kids end up as chronic homeless in their adult lives.
Please, when you see kids like Carol Ann on the street, don’t try and change them. Best thing to do is be a friend and listen. Years of pain and abuse don’t go away quickly. Many have serious trust issues, and all of them can use more love.