Other Youth Topics

Family Conflict and Violence

Homeless and runaway youth consistently identify family conflict as the primary reason for homelessness and they experience more conflict at home than their peers.1 These youth experience higher rates of serious violence,2 child abuse, and neglect.3

  • Research suggests that it is longstanding issues of conflict, not one issue that arises before leaving home,4 that cause the most serious problems.
  • Almost 90 percent of runaway youth in shelters run by the Family Youth Service Bureau (FYSB) and 75.5 percent in residential programs reported family dynamics as critical issues leading to their homelessness.5
  • Homeless youth experience high rates of physical and sexual abuse. Rates of sexual abuse tend to cluster in a range from 21 percent to 42 percent among homeless youth, significantly higher than the estimated one to three percent in the general population.6
  • Additionally, 41 percent of youth attribute running away to poor relationships with parents, while only 7 percent of parents report the same.7

Prevention efforts to minimize family conflict and violence may include family-focused prevention programs including support groups for parents, parenting skills classes, and conflict resolution skills.8


Homelessness Resource Center: Homeless Populations
The Homelessness Resource Center, supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is an interactive community of providers, consumers, policymakers, researchers, and public agencies at federal, state, and local levels. The Center shares state-of-the-art knowledge and promising practices to prevent and end homelessness through the following:

  • Training and technical assistance
  • Publications and materials
  • Online learning opportunities
  • Networking and collaboration

The Center includes a section focused specifically on youth.

Chapin Hall: Young People Experience Significant Disruption and Loss Both Before and During Their Homelessness

This report from Chapin Hall discusses findings from the largest qualitative study done with youth experiencing homelessness, looking into the hardships that occur before and during homelessness.

1 Whitbeck et al., 2002
2 Whitbeck et al., 2002
3 Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007;
4 Whitbeck et al, 2002
5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008
6 Greene et al., 2002; Whitbeck et al, 2002
7 Sayfer, Thompson, Maccio, Zittel-Palamara, & Forehand, 2004
8 Toro, Dworsky, & Fowler, 2007