Opinion: Dear parents, stop kicking your kids out

In+the+midst+of+the+coronavirus+pandemic%2C+teens+are+being+kicked+out+of+their+houses.+Parents+need+to+examine+the+risks+of+their+child+being+homeless+before+making+the+brash+decision+to+send+them+out+onto+the+streets.

Sleeping / Michael VH / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, teens are being kicked out of their houses. Parents need to examine the risks of their child being homeless before making the brash decision to send them out onto the streets.

Last month, Gavin Newsom issued a statewide lockdown to take action against the spread of COVID-19. Many students viewed this as a fun opportunity to stay at home from school, go out and party with friends, and stay up all night.

But many other students knew this would be hell.

An overwhelming number of students knew school and their social lives were an escape from controlling and abusive parents. While the exact number of American children facing abuse is unknown, the child abuse organization Do Something stated that over 2.9 million cases of child abuse are reported every year. And, the terrifying fact is that this number doesn’t account for the millions of cases that go unreported and even more cases of psychological abuse.

Quarantine meant hell to so many of us because we knew we would be trapped inside with our parents. Different parents take their anger out on their children in different ways, so most of us didn’t know what to expect. But within the first days of quarantine, most of us started hearing accusations from one or both parents. In fact, the majority of my peers have faced some form of bashing from their parents in quarantine. 

But for others, it was much worse than words. Some parents have kicked their kids out of the house.

It is absolutely heartbreaking to receive a call at 11 p.m. from a friend, saying they have nowhere to go. They are out on the street with nothing but a phone and the clothes on their back. They can’t stay with most of their friends because of worries about exposure to coronavirus. They can’t wait the night out in a restaurant because almost every public place is closed. This child is trapped.

Khalid Kishawi
These are just some of the statistics that show how dangerous it is to be a homeless minor.

Parents have a number of reasons for expelling their children from their homes. They may find out about their child’s use of alcohol or illegal substances. They may find out about their child’s sexuality or gender identity which they don’t agree with due to their political beliefs. Or, they might just be in a bad mood. There are so many reasons why a parent wouldn’t want their child living with them, but all of these reasons are unjustifiable and cruel.

When a person becomes a parent, they take on the responsibility of caring for a human being. Even if they don’t have the financial means to completely support the child, they must provide a safe environment where their child can grow and develop. A mother or father’s resentment or anger issues should never be blamed on the child, as it isn’t the child’s fault for existing.

But say the child did partake in illegal activities. Even if your child is abusing substances and harming themselves, every parent has the responsibility to teach their child what is right and wrong and how one should handle themselves in the world. Someone under the age of 16 can’t drink, drive, give legal consent, join the army, or choose to live on their own. So how should minors as young as 13 be expected to be able to live on their own? It’s delusional.

Even if your child is out on the streets for only 24 hours, their risk of being harmed goes through the roof.

The risks of being a homeless minor are revolting, and the ability to access resources during a pandemic is highly limited. 

Being trapped at home with your child can create tensions, but parents need to use this time to work through those problems instead of giving up and forcing their child to fend for themselves. Every child is entitled to an unconditionally supportive environment, and, at the end of the day, a child you disagree with is better than a dead child.