Of the 78 homeless and at-risk youth surveyed in Springfield earlier this year, 57 of them reported having been the victim of or witness to repeated household traumas. Forty-five of the youth said they had thought about suicide, and 38 reported they had self-mutilated, such as cutting or burning themselves, at some point.
More than half reported they had wondered where they would sleep the following night.
These stats come from the 2019 High Risk and Homeless Youth Report that was released Friday.
The survey project was developed and completed by the Community Partnership of the Ozarks' Homeless Youth Task Force in conjunction with Missouri State University's Sociology Department.
This report highlights basic demographic information about youth experiencing homelessness as well as trends in youth homelessness.
Though the number of youth who completed the survey was down considerably from the 2018 report (158 youth completed the survey last year), it is not believed that the number of homeless or at risk youth have decreased.
The survey was done on a very cold day in January, explained Michelle Hethcoat, CPO's special projects coordinator.
"That afternoon it was about 15 degrees," she said. "If they had been in an abandoned building or managed to get a hotel room or find a friend's place to crash, they would likely have stayed there."
Also, the survey was done in a new location this year, which combined with the weather, may have led to a reduced attendance for surveys at the event, Hethcoat said.
There were 144 youth counted in the annual Point-In-Time Count who were either literally homeless, in emergency shelters, or in transitional housing programs.
Key points from the 2019 High Risk and Homeless Youth Report:
Of the youth who completed the survey,
42 respondents had been wards of the state and 24 were still in care.
36 respondents were males and 39 were females. One was transgender and two were gender non-conforming.
57 youth were white, nine were black and five were two or more racial group backgrounds. Three people were American Indian. Three people responded "other" which included Mexican/American. A separate question asked if they are Hispanic/Latino; 10 subjects said yes.
Of the 18 individuals who were released from foster care, six said they did not receive the support needed to transition out of care and live independently.
Five people said they or their significant other might be pregnant, and 15 said they or their significant other was pregnant or currently a parent.
57 respondents had been the victim of or witness to repeated traumatic events in a caregiving situation.
45 reported experiencing some sort of abuse from a relative or other person they had stayed with. Of those who were abused, two reported being emotionally abused, two were physically abused, two were sexually abused and 26 had been abused in some combination of the three. Thirteen did not specify.
39 youth said they had run away from their home.
41 respondents reported that one or both of their parents had an alcohol or drug problem.
17 reported they have had or currently have an alcohol or drug problem. Four did not answer. Over two-thirds said they have never had a drug or alcohol problem.
31 respondents said they had been diagnosed with a mental illness.
30 individuals had stayed in a homeless shelter, lived with friends or another family member, or stayed in a hotel/motel within the last week.
Nine said they had slept in a place not meant to be slept in, such as a vehicle, shed, park, porch, tunnel or vacant building within the last week.
16 youth had experienced homelessness with their family.
33 youth had been homeless on their own without their family.
37 youth said they had wondered where they would get food today.
27 young people agreed or strongly agreed that there are adults in Springfield who endanger or harm homeless youth.
35 respondents reported doing something they would not normally do to stay in a housing situation; 24 of those 35 said they had stayed somewhere that didn't feel safe; nine of the 35 said they had paid something other than money (food stamps, sex, labor/work) to stay in a housing situation; 9 of the 35 reported they stayed with a sexual partner they otherwise would not have stayed with in order to stay in a housing situation.
Seven respondents said they received something (money, food, shelter, drugs, etc.) in exchange for sex/sexual activity; five said that they had been made/persuaded/forced to have sex in exchange for something.
*Note: Respondents did not have to answer every question.
Find the full report at cpozarks.org/oaeh.