FACTS ABOUT RUN-AWAY TEENS

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8828707_GNW Indiana man arrested for human trafficking
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Posted: Sep 18, 2015 2:11 PM PDT
Updated: Sep 18, 2015 2:11 PM PDT
By WESH, Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. –
An Indiana man is accused of purchasing two children for sex while visiting Orlando, according to Florida authorities.

Michael Luck, 58, purchased two girls, ages 15 and 16, from the website Backpage.com for sex, according to investigators.

“He not only purchased them, he harbored them in his hotel room for a week. There were drugs involved. It’s very concerning,” said Dave Allmond, with Orlando’s Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation.

Agents said Luck is one of the first suspected sex trade customers they’ve arrested on first-degree felony human trafficking. The charges carry a possible life sentence because Luck is suspected of buying and having sex with minors.

Luck was spotted at a local shopping mall while he was with the two girls, one of whom had been reported missing. He was later arrested in Indiana and charged with human trafficking of a child, unlawful sexual activity with a child, lewd and lascivious battery and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.

“These juveniles who run away are in a very vulnerable position. There are human traffickers looking to capitalize on the fact that they have nowhere to go,” Allmond said.

Luck is being held at the Jasper County Jail pending extradition to Orlando.





run-away

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare—you go to check on your child in the middle of the night, and she’s not there. Your heart starts pounding and you fly into panic mode, calling her friends, your relatives, and the police.

Whether or not your child has run away or threatened to do so—or you fear that she might—it’s vital that you read this article. James Lehman has worked with runaway teens for many years, and in this new EP series he explains why kids run away, ways you can stop them, and how to handle their behavior when they come home.

[Editor’s Note: The intent of this article is to support parents in situations where their child uses running away as a faulty problem-solving skill in response to rules or limits that are being set in the home. Sometimes there are underlying issues that may influence a child or teen to run away. This article is not intended to address situations that may possibly involve abuse, neglect or other issues.]

“Kids who threaten to run away are using it for power.”
Any child can run away at any time if the circumstances are right. Believe me, if they’re under enough stress, any kid can justify running away.

Don’t forget, running away is like any action. In order to do it you need three things: the ability, the willingness and the opportunity. And let’s face it, kids have the opportunity and ability to run every day—so all it really takes is the willingness to do it. That willingness can develop for a variety of reasons. It could be a stressful situation your child is under, a fear of getting consequences for something they did, a form of power struggle, not wanting to go to school, or a substance abuse problem.
Another factor is that kids often idealize running away and develop a romanticized view of life on the streets. In reality, it’s awful: you’re cold, you’re hungry and it’s dangerous, but adolescents often see it as an adventure or the key to freedom, where “No one is going to tell me what to do.”

Why Kids Run Away
Many kids run away because of drug and alcohol abuse. When teens and pre-teens get involved in substance abuse, they may leave home to hide it so their parents don’t find out. These kids are often using a lot more than their parents know; they want to use more freely and openly, so they run away.

In addition to fear or anger, feelings of failure can also cause kids to leave home. Some children run away because it’s easier to live on their own than to live in a critical home. I remember being 15 years old and living in a hallway in the Bronx in winter. I didn’t miss home at all because I felt like such a failure there. Sadly, kids with behavior management problems or learning disabilities often get tired of the feeling that they just can’t get it right; it’s easier for them to run than to fix the problem. Often, they don’t know that what they’re facing can be dealt with using other strategies.

Related: Learn how to teach problem solving skills to your teen.

In my opinion, the main reason why kids run away is because they don’t have good problem-solving skills. Running away is an “either/or” kind of solution; it’s a product of black-and-white thinking. Kids run away because they don’t want to face something, and that includes emotions they don’t want to deal with. The adolescent who runs away has run out of problem-solving skills. And leaving home—along with everything that is overwhelming them—seems to solve their immediate problems.

Episodic vs. Chronic Running Away
I think it’s very important to distinguish between kids who run away episodically, and those who are chronic runners. The reasons behind the actions are quite different, and it’s crucial to know what they are.

Episodic Running Away: When your child runs away after something has happened, it can be viewed as episodic running away. It’s not a consistent pattern, and your child is not using it as a problem-solving strategy all the time. It’s also not something they use to gain power. Rather, they might be trying to avoid some consequence, humiliation or embarrassment. I’ve known kids to leave home because they were caught cheating in school or because they became pregnant and were afraid of their parents’ disapproval.
Chronic Running Away: Kids who consistently use running away to gain power in the family have a chronic problem. Realize that chronic running away is just another form of power struggle, manipulation, or acting out; it’s just very high risk acting out. They may threaten their parents by saying, “If you make me do that, I’ll run away.” They know parents worry; for many, it’s one of their greatest fears. Some parents may engage in bargaining and over-negotiating with their kids over this when they shouldn’t because they’re afraid. But you need to understand that kids who threaten to run away are using it for power. This not only gives them power over themselves, but power over their parents and their families as well. When a parent gives in to this threat, their child starts using it to train them. For example, a parent in this situation will learn to stop sending their child to their room if he or she threatens to run away each time it happens. I want to be clear here: kids who chronically threaten to run away are not running away to solve one problem. They’re running away because that is their main problem-solving skill. They’re trying to avoid any type of accountability.
Are there Warning Signs?
Unfortunately, there are no real hard-and-fast signs that indicate your child is about to run away. Certainly, you can look for secretive behavior, the hoarding of money, and things of value disappearing around the house. If you ever notice this happening, don’t turn a blind eye: trust your gut. You probably already know that something is up, whether it’s substance abuse or your child’s desire to leave home.

A Step-by-Step Way to Teach Your Kids that Running Away Won’t Solve Their Problems

Teach Problem-Solving Skills
The most important thing you can do is teach your children problem solving skills. Ask them, “What can you do differently about this problem? What are some ways we can deal with this problem?” Always approach something as a problem that needs to be solved, and reward your child when they are able to do it successfully. Be sure to say things like, “I liked the way you solved that problem, Josh. The teacher was upset, but you went up and apologized. That took guts. And now she has a better opinion of you. I’m really proud of you.” As much as possible, praise your child when he does something positive.
Create an Atmosphere of Acceptance
Unconditional love is an idea that is used a lot in parenting, but different people mean different things by it. Some people say “unconditional love” but what they mean is “co-dependency.” When I say unconditional love, I mean “I can’t love you any less if you do poorly and I won’t love you love anymore if you do well. If you get an A I won’t love you any more. If you get a D I won’t love you any less. I love you.” I think it’s important for parents to have that kind of atmosphere in their house and to reinforce it with their kids. It’s also good for parents to say, “It’s okay to make mistakes around here.” Make it clear to your child that “the way we handle mistakes in our home is by facing up to them and dealing with them.”
Check in with Your Child
All parents should have a system where they check in with their kids frequently. Just stop and ask, “How’s it going? Anything you want help with?” You can say this two or three times in one day; go by their room and knock on the door. That way you’re constantly giving your child hypodermic interest and affection. You’re saying, “I’m interested in you, I care.” This is a skill that parents can build; it doesn’t always come naturally. I understand that parents who have worked all day come home and they’re tired. My wife and I were both social workers and when we came home, the last thing we wanted to do was talk some more. But we trained ourselves to do that so our son would know we were interested and that we cared. You never lose when you show that to a child.
Talk to Your Child if You Think He’s at Risk of Running
If you think your child is at risk of running away or you know that his friends have done so, you want to sit down and talk with him. Always temper your comments about other kids’ behavior by what your child might be thinking. They hear you when you say, “Oh, that little hoodlum, if my kid ran away, he’d never come home.” As a parent, you need to be careful about who’s listening. What you really want to say to your child is, “If you screw up and run away, don’t hesitate to come back and we’ll talk about it.” And if your child says, “Talk about what?” I would say, “Talk about how to solve the problem differently.”
Responding to Threats
When your child threatens to run away, I think you should respond by saying, “Running away is not going to solve your problems. You’re going to have to take responsibility for this. And by the way, if you do run away, you’re still going to have to face this problem when you come home.” And then tell them what will solve their problems: “These are the family rules and learning to deal with the family rules is going to solve your problems. Not running away from them.”

I think you can give warnings, as well. You might say, “Listen, if you run away, I can’t stop you, but it’s dangerous out there. I won’t be able to protect you. So not only will you not solve your problems, you’ll also be putting yourself at risk. Bad things happen to kids and that’s the risk you’re taking. I don’t think it’s worth it, Jenna.” As I mentioned before, you can also try to get them to take a time-out by saying, “Why don’t you just calm down for five minutes and then let’s talk about it.”

Many families I’ve worked with wound up dealing with constant threats by saying, “Look, if you run, you run. But these are still our family rules.” At some point, they stopped giving in because they realized it wasn’t effective or healthy for their families or their child.
Related: Give your teen consequences that really work.

“I’m Outta Here!” When Your Child is about to Leave:

3 Things Parents Can Do in the Moment

Many kids leave home in the heat of an argument with their parents or after some major event. This action is probably not spontaneous—your child might have been considering how they will run away for quite some time. If you sense your child is about to leave, here are a few things you can do or say to stop them:

Try to Get Them to Calm Down
Try to get your child to calm down for five minutes. You can say, “Why don’t you sit right here in the living room and take a timeout. I’ll be back in five minutes.” I wouldn’t tell your child to go to his room; have him stay right there in the living room or kitchen. It’s not a good idea to send him to his bedroom. This is because if he goes there and gets the impulse, he’s going to climb out the window.
Ask “What’s Going on?” Not “How are You Feeling?”
When you talk to your child, don’t ask him how he’s feeling; ask him what’s going on. All kids want to argue about how they’re feeling—or they want to deny that they’re feeling anything at all. Often parents get stuck there. So instead of, “Why are you so upset?” try asking, “What’s going on? What did you see that made you want to leave?”
Use Persuasive Language
A really good question to ask your child is, “So what’s so bad about this that you can’t handle it?” After he or she tells you, you can say, “You’ve handled stuff like this before. Kids your age deal with this all the time and I know you can do it. So you screwed up, it’s not the end of the world. Face what you’ve got to face and then let’s get on with life.” That kind of reasoning is called “persuasive talking.” As a parent, you’re not giving in, but you’re trying to persuade your child that they’re okay. I used this approach successfully in my practice with kids all the time; I found that many teens yield to that type of persuasion.
Remember, kids run away from problems they can’t handle. It’s in our culture. Adolescents often see running away as a way to achieve a sense of power and independence. They don’t understand that it’s false power and independence, however, because they can’t take care of themselves in a legitimate way on the streets. Still, those feelings can be very ingrained for some kids. Personally, I think the most important thing for a child to learn is how to solve his problems differently. Your child is going to have to face whatever he’s avoiding eventually, and it’s of the utmost importance that he understands that critical life lesson: “Eventually, you’re going to have to face this.”

When your child is out on the streets, you feel powerless, afraid and isolated. And if they decide to come home, your joy can quickly turn to dread as you see them fall into the old patterns of behavior that caused them to run in the first place. Look for Part II of “Running Away” in Empowering Parents the week of October 12th. James will tell you more about what you can do when your under-age child runs away, and how to handle their behavior— and give them consequences— when they come home.

Teens Who Leave

Nearly a quarter of all homeless people are under the age of 18. (The 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report)
The National Runaway Switchboard reports 3,152 teens as runaways in Ohio last year.

The average age at the first homeless episode is 14.7 years old. (YouthCare, Inc., 1998)

46% of runaway and homeless youth reported being physically abused,
17% reported being sexually exploited and
38% reported being emotionally abused. (Slavin, 2001)
Why Teens Leave

51% left home because of being thrown out,
37% left because of their parents disapproval of their drug use, and
31% left home because of parental abuse. (Rew, Taylor-Seehafer, Thomas, & Yockey, 2001)

HOMELESS AND RUNAWAY YOUTH
10/1/2013
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What Are States Doing
Federal Policy
Additional Resources
CONTACT
Rochelle Finzel
Homelessness among young people is a serious issue. Homeless youth, sometimes referred to as unaccompanied youth, are individuals who lack parental, foster or institutional care.* The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that on any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends or with strangers. Homeless youth are at a higher risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, substance abuse, and death. It is estimated that 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year as a result of assault, illness, or suicide.**
Data suggests that the current recession has yielded an increase in homeless and runaway youth. Between 2005 and 2008, the National Runaway Switchboard saw a 200 percent increase in calls from youth indicating economic reasons for running away from home. The Switchboard also reported an increase in the numbers of youth who were kicked out of their homes. A 2008 survey of school districts showed an increase in the number of homeless students. It is important to note that precise numbers of homeless youth are difficult to determine due to lack of a standard methodology and mobility of the homeless population.
Studies Have Shown That:
One in seven young people between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away>
Youth age 12 to 17 are more at risk of homelessness than adults
75 percent of runaways are female
Estimates of the number of pregnant homeless girls are between 6 and 22 percent
Between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youth identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning (GLBTQ)
46 percent of runaway and homeless youth reported being physically abused, 38 percent reported being emotionally abused , and 17 percent reported being forced into unwanted sexual activity by a family or household member
75 percent percent of homeless or runaway youth have dropped out or will drop out of school
Common Reasons Why Youth Become Homeless or Runaways:
Family problems: Many youth run away, and in turn become homeless, due to problems in the home, including physical and sexual abuse, mental health disorders of a family member, substance abuse and addiction of a family member, and parental neglect. In some cases, youth are asked to leave the home because the family is unable to provide for their specific mental health or disability needs. Still some youth are pushed out of their homes because their parents cannot afford to care for them.
Transitions from foster care and other public systems: Youth who have been involved in the foster care system are more likely to become homeless at an earlier age and remain homeless for a longer period of time. Youth aging out of the foster care system often have little or no income support and limited housing options and are at higher risk to end up on the streets. Youth that live in residential or institutional facilities often become homeless upon discharge. In addition, very few homeless youth are able to seek housing in emergency shelters due to the lack of shelter beds for young people and shelter admission policies.
Economic problems: Some youth become homeless when their families fall into difficult financial situations resulting from lack of affordable housing, difficulty obtaining or maintaining a job, or lack of medical insurance or other benefits. These youth become homeless with their families, but later can find themselves separated from them and/or living on the streets alone, often due to shelter or child welfare policies.[i]

Consequences of Life on the Street for Homeless and Runaway Youth:
Increased likelihood of high-risk behaviors, including engaging in unprotected sex, having multiple sex partners and participating in intravenous drug use. Youth who engage in these high-risk behaviors are more likely to remain homeless and be more resistant to change.
Greater risk of severe anxiety and depression, suicide, poor health and nutrition, and low self-esteem.
Increased likelihood of exchanging sex for food, clothing and shelter ( also known as “survival sex”) or dealing drugs to meet basic needs. Forty percent of African American youth and 36 percent of Caucasian youth who experienced homelessness or life on the street sold drugs, primarily marijuana, for money.
Difficulty attending school due to lack of required enrollment records (such as immunization and medical records and proof of residence) as well as lack of access to transportation to and from school. As a result, homeless youth often have a hard time getting an education and supporting themselves financially.
Homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning (GLBTQ) youth are more likely to exchange sex for housing or shelter, are abused more often at homeless shelters (especially adult shelters), and experience more violence on the streets than homeless heterosexual youth.
What are States Doing?
States have adopted a variety of policies to combat youth homelessness. Some of these policies address the educational needs of homeless and runaway youth while others appropriate money for shelters and transitional housing. Other policies include counseling and outreach services to already homeless youth or youth at risk of becoming homeless.
Enacted legislation:
Several states have enacted legislation addressing the issue of homeless youth. Among the highlights of enacted legislation since 2006 are:
Connecticut required the Department of Children and Families to review and monitor its placement of out-of-state, runaway and homeless youth and to issue an annual report to the General Assembly concerning these placements.
Illinois established a program of transitional discharge from foster care for teenage foster children, enabling former foster youths under age 21 who encounter significant hardship upon emancipation to reengage with the Department of Children and Family Services and the Juvenile Court, in order to secure essential supports and services available to foster youth seeking to learn to live independently as adults.
Indiana provided that an emergency shelter, a shelter care facility, or a program that provides services to homeless or low income individuals may provide shelter and certain other related services or items to a child without the permission of the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian.
Kansas allowed runaway programs and homeless shelters to provide dental hygiene services to youth in their care.
Maine established a comprehensive program for homeless youth and runaways. The legislation also required the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the comprehensive program through performance-based contracts with organizations and agencies licensed by the department that provide street and community outreach, drop-in programs, emergency shelter and transitional living services.
Minnesota passed the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. The bill defined homeless youth as a person age 21 or younger who lacks a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime residence. In addition, the bill required the commissioner of Human Services to report on homeless youth, youth at risk of homelessness and runaways.
Nevada required approved youth shelters to make a reasonable, bona fide attempt to notify the parent, guardian or custodian about the whereabouts of a runaway or homeless youth as soon as practicable, except in cases of suspected abuse or neglect. The bill also clarified the definition of “runaway or homeless youth” to mean a youth who is under age 18.
Tennessee passed a measure prohibiting a school from denying a child admission because he or she has not been immunized or is unable to produce immunization records due to being homeless.
Utah passed a bill requiring a person who harbors a minor who is a runaway to provide notice to the parent or legal guardian of the minor, the Division of Child and Family Services, or, under certain circumstances, a peace officer or a detention center, within eight hours from the time that the person begins providing the shelter or the time that the person becomes aware that the minor is a runaway.
Washington passed a measure requiring the Superintendent of Public Instruction to track additional expenditures related to transportation of homeless students.
Legislation introduced in the 2009 legislative session:
Since the beginning of the 2009 session, at least eight states have introduced legislation to combat youth homelessness. Of these states:
Alaska introduced legislation requiring the governing body of a school district to comply with the requirements for continuing the public education of a homeless student in the student’s school of origin and for providing comparable education and transportation services during the homelessness.
California introduced legislation to require counties to provide counseling services to homeless and at-risk youth.
Connecticut introduced a measure to study the issue of parental responsibility for damages caused by runaway youth.
Hawaii proposed the creation of a task force to coordinate and develop resources for homeless children.
Illinois introduced legislation to appropriate $1 million from the general revenue fund to the Department of Human Services for the purpose of providing shelter and transitional housing and employment assistance for homeless youth.< Minnesota introduced a bill to appropriate $4 million in fiscal year 2010 and $4 million in fiscal year 2011 from the general fund to the commissioner of Human Services for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. Minnesota also introduced a measure to appropriate $1 million for the biennium beginning July 1, 2009, from the general fund to the Commissioner of Human Services for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and $3 million to the commissioner to implement programs to address long-term homelessness. Nebraska introduced a bill to study the issue of homeless youth in the state. The legislation will also evaluate the effectiveness of current state government programs that address homeless youth and will identify alternative strategies to help combat the growing problem in the state. New Mexico introduced a bill to provide a transitional living program for homeless and runaway youth in Bernalillo county. New Mexico also introduced a bill to appropriate $125,000 to implement a transitional living program in Bernalillo county that offers temporary shelter, board, living skills education, behavioral health services and social services to homeless and runaway youth ages 16 to 21. New York introduced a bill to amend the education law to align with the provisions of the federal McKinney-Vento Assistance Act. The bill would allow a homeless child to designate a public school as the child's or youth's school of origin and would require the school district to provide transportation for the child to the school. Federal Policy The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau, part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, was first enacted in 1974 and is the only federal law that focuses on unaccompanied, homeless youth. The RHYA, as currently amended, authorizes federal funding for three programs —the Basic Center Program, Transitional Living Program, and Street Outreach Program— to assist runaway and homeless youth. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 was the first major federal legislative response to homelessness. Title VII of the Act includes provisions to ensure the enrollment, attendance, and success of homeless children and youth in school. Under the Act schools must work to eliminate any barriers, such as transportation, that may prohibit students from attending school, and are required to appoint a liaison to work with homeless students and their families. The Chaffee Foster Care Independence Program provides states with funding to support and provide services to youth who are expected to age out of foster care as well as former foster care youth ages 18 to 21. Funds from the program can be used for housing, educational services and independent living services. The Fostering Connections Act of 2008 increased federal funds available to states to extend assistance to foster youth up until age 21 as long as the youth is in school, working or has a medical condition that prevents them from participating in those activities. Services can include housing assistance, vocational and college help, and counseling. More Homeless and Runaway Youth: State Policy Options Early Intervention and Prevention Programs: Many youth become homeless as a result of family problems and financial difficulties. As a result, young people often lack the necessary supports to help them find jobs, obtain an education and reunite with their families. States can implement a homelessness prevention program that includes counseling, family reunification services, and rent assistance. Intervene with Already-Homeless Youth: Homeless youth need access to services that will help them regain stability in their lives, such as obtaining a job and affordable housing. States can provide homeless youth with access to educational outreach programs, job training and employment programs, transitional living programs, and services for mental health and life skills trainings. States can also create commissions or task forces to examine the issue of youth homelessness and offer recommendations to the legislature on how to improve outcomes for young people. Independent Housing Options: Expanding long-term housing options and providing supportive services —such as food, clothing and counseling— are examples of ways that states can help homeless youth. States can create housing programs that respond to the diverse needs of homeless youth. Youth housing programs include group homes, residential treatment, host homes, shared homes, youth shelters, and community-based transitional living programs. It is important to note that youth housing programs are more cost-effective than alternative out-of-home placements such as juvenile corrections facilities, treatment centers or jail. Funding is needed to implement transitional living programs and provide outreach services to keep youth in transition off the streets. States should foster collaboration between programs and across agencies to ensure that young people's needs are met. Enhance Services Provided by Juvenile Corrections and Foster Care Programs: Each year, roughly 24,000 youth age out of foster care with little or no financial and housing resources. In addition, there is little attention paid to the housing needs of youth leaving juvenile correction facilities.[ii] *Please note that many national organizations define homeless and runaway youth differently. For example, the National Alliance to End Homeless defines homeless youth as unaccompanied individuals ages 12 to 24, while the National Coalition for the Homeless defines homeless youth as individuals under the age of 18. **Please note that the terms "homeless" and "runaway" are used interchangeably as both groups lack adequate shelter and are at a greater risk of engaging in dangerous behaviors while living on the streets. Bill summaries in this document were prepared using State Net, copyright© 2009 by Information for Public Affairs. If you wish to contribute information about your state or have questions about the content, please send an email to dept-cyf@ncsl.org. Additional Resources National Alliance to End Homelessness, "America's Homeless Youth: Recommendations to Congress on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act." National Coalition for the Homeless, June 2008, NCH Fact Sheet #13. August 2008. National Network for Youth, Fact Sheets and Issue Briefs National Runaway Switchboard, "National Runaway Switchboard Crisis Caller Trends." Oct. 28, 2009 MSNBC, "Tidal Wave of Homeless Students Hits Schools." March 2, 2009. The Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs Science Daily, "Homeless Youth Need More Than Treatment for Substance Abuse, Study Says." May 12, 2008. YouthNoise, "Youth Homelessness: Facts and Solutions." NCSL Resources Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender and Questioning Youth Youth in Transition [i] Shelter Policies: When families become homeless, they may become separated due to shelter policies that don't accommodate families, single fathers or children over a certain age (particularly male children). While some cities have family shelters, the number of beds are limited. Child Welfare Policies: When families are homeless and there is suspicion of abuse or neglect, child welfare services may intervene and the child can be removed from the family. If this occurs, the child will most likely be placed into protective services and eventually into foster care. Unfortunately, as discussed, many of the public services available to homeless youth, such as the child welfare system, are fragmented and uncoordinated. As a result, homeless youth often become frustrated and reluctant to enter the system, resigning to a life on the streets alone. [ii] National Alliance to End Homelessness, "America's Homeless Youth: Recommendations to Congress on the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act,"
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