An article from the NYT on the rise of teenaged runaways over the past few years, as the economy has worsened. It’s sad and, for me, recognizable. One of the things I encountered every now and then when I was going around reading from my first novel, One for Sorrow, after its release a couple of years ago, was the occasional reader who would come up to me afterward to say how much they liked the book but found something about the running away that the narrator, a fifteen year old from rustbelt Ohio, slightly fantastical. I would laugh because it has ghosts in the book, but it was the very real event of running away that felt at a remove for these rare but present readers. For me, it was something I’d seen over the years in and around this region of Ohio, as the loss of industry grew to a devastating level, and families no longer able to support themselves sometimes began to implode under economic pressure. Kids ran away from trouble that brewed at home in those conditions. Here it is, a bit more evident, apparently trending as more places feel the pinch. It’s sad stuff, but it’s good to see it being recognized for what it is here.
Chris, I really appreciated the link to this article and your comments. I thought it put into better context the other article I’ve been seeing the past week about the teen street girl with amnesia whom no one has reported missing.
I started looking at the readers’ comments after the article but had to stop when I got to the woman whose whole response was “I will pray for these kids tonight.” As if that makes a difference. As if God creates this horrific situation for these teens just so the rest of us will have a reason to pray.
Thanks, Charlie. And, I know. A lot of those reader responses were just ridiculous. If they weren’t saying things like the one you mentioned, they were trying to turn this trend into something to talk about in terms of what is Obama going to do about it? Huh, huh? Stupid politicos. Politics can’t save these kids. People have to do that. And you’re right, praying is nice, but how about you get off your knees to follow faith through with action? If it’s not that, then it’s people saying stuff that blames the parents, as if they themselves are not victims to an economic ecology that has encouraged predatory lenders to take away their homes? Or for corporations to take jobs to other countries because it’s more profitable, leaving them without income? We live in a country that fosters these things at this point. But people are still clueless as all get-out. They think morals stand up under the pressures of despair. And they think that way because they’ve never been placed in that kind of condition, and have failed to imagine what it must be like, and how it can tear people apart, even the best of us.