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An estimated 1.6 million youth run away from home each year. While on the run, these youth are vulnerable to exploitation, victimization, increased dangers and perpetration of criminal behavior. Runaway and homeless youth are far more likely to engage in substance use and delinquent behavior, drop out of school and suffer from sexually transmitted diseases and mental illness at greater rates than the norm. Timely and direct intervention in runaway and throwaway cases is imperative to protect youth from the high risks of living on the streets. National Safe Place is an outreach and prevention program that is uniquely designed to provide immediate safety and access to services for any youth in need. In partnership with over 360 youth serving agencies and over 10,000 businesses and community organizations across the United States, the Safe Place program educates youth about alternatives to running away and homelessness and provides easily accessible links to service providers. Ongoing data collection indicates that National Safe Place has been successful in reaching endangered youth at risk of abuse, neglect or serious family problems but that expanded program models remain needed. The challenges and successes of current programming and the future of National Safe Place program expansion are discussed.
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- Invited Commentary: National Safe Place: Meeting the Immediate Needs of Runaway and Homeless Youth
Sara M. Walsh
Robin E. Donaldson
- Springer US