Akron teen speaks out about what life is like for homeless students: Part 2

Akron teen speaks out about what life is like for homeless students: Part 2

AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - As of Thursday, there are 797 missing children in Ohio according to the Ohio Attorney Generals Office.

There are also more than 34,180 homeless students in Ohio Public schools.

19 news reports on missing children regularly and we ask for your help to bring them home.

But, rarely do we find out what happens when children do go missing and end up homeless.

19 News Anchor Neeha Curtis spoke with a girl who went missing last year when she was 17 years old and since has turned 18.

She did not want to be identified, but she did sit down for an interview to give us a look at what she went through living in a tent in the woods as a homeless high school student.

She said she wanted to tell her story to help other homeless and missing children.

She lived her life in countless foster homes, in shelters, the streets, and she ended up in a place she didn’t really didn’t expect: the woods in middle of Akron.

She said, “it’s actually kind of funny before I moved into the camps. I’ve never even went camping before. I would watch NatGeo and Animal Planet all the time, but never actually been camping.”

19 News asked her what it was like living outside.

She described waking up at 2 a.m. hearing the birds chirping outside.

She said, “it also depends on the weather. If we even went to sleep that night, or if it was raining too hard to keep taking care of leaks in the tent.”

Trying to shower or take a bath doesn't really work when you're living in a tent or on the streets.

"We use wet wipes a lot and then we'll take washcloths and heat up. Usually like stainless steel bowls are the best because they heat up water quick and they keep it warm for a long time. We'll do that with soap and take an actual semi decent bath that way and then usually we just wait till it rains and collect a bunch of water that way if we want to wash our hair."

Food is also a struggle.

She described scrounging for scraps, or picking through the dumpsters for food that’s been thrown out.

Another reality for homeless children is that they become easy targets when they're alone with nowhere to go.

She said she was attacked while she was sleeping, “Someone had decided to zip tie my tent shut and pour some type of gas on it light on fire with me asleep inside. I didn’t know what to do. All my stuff got burned.”

After that she moved into the main homeless encampment but even with people around, predators are always there, waiting, looking to take advantage of girls without options.

Sex trafficking and sexual predators are part of the risk being alone, young, and without protection.

She said she was in a “relationship” with a 52-year-old man.

She was 17.

“My previous relationship there be days on end where you will know me eat or drink anything. He would starve me wouldn’t let me drink, make me stand outside or I wasn’t allowed to go to sleep.”

This 52-year old-man beat this girl so badly, she ended up in the hospital.

"He cornered me in the tent and beat me with a 10 foot aluminum pole and then shoved it into the bone above my eye and broke the bone and I had to go to hospital for it."

It was while she was at the hospital she found out she was pregnant.

She told 19 News she was raped several times.

Many runaways and homeless children experience significant trauma in their lives but there's hope if there is help.

“It does get better eventually. You have a lot of scars and a lot of things You have to get over with time and you just gotta keep looking forward.”

There are several organizations in northeast Ohio trying to help homeless students.

There are also private organizations like Bellefaire’s JCB doing street outreach to help these children find a safe place.

Editor’s note: 19 News has an update on the teen’s living situation and the GoFundMe that was originally featured in this story.

19 News provides update on Akron teenager

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