Teens often live in "families" of as many as 20 adolescents, huddling under bridges, in woods, on beaches or in abandoned buildings. Most were forced to support themselves by panhandling, theft, drug sales or prostitution, reports a Stanford University study.
Fully 92 percent of those surveyed came from broken homes. Half reported family alcoholism and 40 percent reported drug abuse. In addition, 56 percent of the teens reported physical abuse and 38 percent reported sexual abuse in their families.
"There are throwaway, as well as runaway, teens among the homeless youths," the researchers said. "The parents of throwaway teens, those who were forced out, felt that the teens caused too many problems. The teens also mentioned frequent conflict with parents, lack of money or room, and teenage pregnancy and homosexuality. Most teenage homeless were not wanted nor well cared for."