Homeless—And Doubled Up

The bank foreclosed on your home because your parents divorced and don't have enough money to pay the mortgage. You're locked out of your house. Where will the family sleep? Most families turn to friends and relatives at times like these. That's why about 75 percent of the 1,258,182 homeless students in the United States live "doubled-up." Telltale signs of living doubled-up include references to crowded conditions, panic attacks in class, chronic hunger or food-hoarding behaviors, sleep deprivation, wearing unkempt clothes, having inadequate personal hygiene, and experiencing unmet medical or psychological needs. Families doubled-up may experience few rules or routines or may experience seemingly capricious rules or routines, leaving children bewildered. The specter of being on the streets is constant for these students; they're always under the threat of having to contend with difficult weather conditions, hunger and thirst, dangerous predators, street crime, rape, human trafficking, and more. Several approaches have proven helpful in addressing traumatized students' needs: building strong teacher-student relationships, framing problematic behavior as indicative of the student's state of mind at that time and not reflective of his or her nature, bolstering students' confidence in their ability to succeed, and helping students acknowledge and address the challenges they face.

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