Children are at greatest risk for the detrimental effects of homelessness, and they suffer the most physical, psychological, and emotional damage. Their physical development may be delayed, and children are susceptible to infectious and communicable diseases.
Among the homeless 3- to 5-year-olds, behavioral problems have been observed. Children older than age 5 frequently act out their anxieties. The foreboding danger for children is the inevitability that they are virtually trapped in poverty with no escape from homelessness. Thus poverty and homelessness may become a self-fulfilling prophecy passed on through the generations.
Bonds between the homeless parents and children weaken because parents are likely to assume a diminished role as disciplinarians and nurturers. Potential for child abuse is rife when the frustrations of homelessness exceed parental self-control.
Far too many homeless children skip school, fail and repeat grades, perform below the average, test poorly in reading and math, and are functionally illiterate.
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