Dear Editor,

November is National Runaway Prevention Month and the Youth Services Bureau of Huntington County would like to take this time to thank all of the Safe Place sites serving Whitley County. These caring people are the first line of defense for youth in Whitley County who are contemplating running away. When faced with a conflict, some youth who do not have appropriate coping skills may think of running away or even contemplate suicide. Safe Place/Host Homes provides youth with immediate access to caring adults when they find themselves dealing with a crisis. The majority of youth who seek assistance through the Safe Place program is due to family issues. However, other reasons youth may seek assistance is if they feel they are being bullied, followed by a stranger or contemplating suicide. Without the community partners, such as the Safe Place sites, Whitley County youth would often be left vulnerable!

When young people make the decision to run away, they become a throwaway or become homeless and they are placed at great risk. Youth on the streets are more likely to become victims of abuse, sexual exploitation, malnutrition and/or depression. They are also more likely to misuse drugs and/or alcohol in order to cope with their situation. Runaway youth are also not maintaining their education, which makes gaining employment even more difficult.

Whitley County is very fortunate to have caring businesses serve as Safe Place sites. When you see businesses displaying the big yellow Safe Place sign, thank them for their efforts and their willingness to provide youth with immediate assistance. We are currently recruiting families who are willing to open their homes to youth in crisis in Whitley County as a Host Home. Host Homes are a vital part of our runaway and homelessness prevention efforts. To learn more about becoming a Host Home contact the agency at (260) 356-9681 or email Chelsea Winner at c.winner@ysbofhuntingtonco.org.

The Youth Services Bureau would also like to thank the community for being so supportive of the agency and our efforts to meet the needs of Whitley’s young people and their families. Without community support many youth and families would not have the support they so desperately need.

Jan Williams

Executive Director, Youth Services Bureau