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T here are more than a million of them on the streets of America’s major cities, and most adults would like to believe that they are all other people’s children. They are America’s runaways. Many children who run away from home are attracted to the predictable spots: Times Square, New York; the Sunset Strip, Los Angeles; or Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But studies show that over 80% run away for the first time to no farther than 300 miles from their homes. So street kids are almost everywhere.

H ungry and tired, one out of three kids is lured into prostitution and drugs less than forty eight hours after leaving home. Selling sex has always meant destroying self-esteem. But now, in the age of AIDS, prostitution as well as drugs are not much different from slow suicide.

A lthough many of these children have run away from home because of physical or psychological abuse, or both, they are often considered to be simply ‘ bad kids’. Passers-by wonder by they don’t go home. “What they don’t know,” says Director Jed Emerson of San Francisco’s Larkin Street Youth Centre, “is that in 68% of our calls to parents whose children would accept going home, the response is YOU KEEP THE KID.”

T he government’s response has also been less than enthusiastic. Last year, out of $1 trillion budget, the federal government found just $26 million to help runaways. Although there are 2,000 runaway children in San Francisco alone, government shelters can offer them only 40 beds! Inevitably, street kids die quickly and quietly. More than 5,000 teenagers a year are buried in unmarked graves.

A. What do the underlined words in the text refer to?

  1. their (§ 1)
  2. bad kids (§ 2)
  3. them (§ 3)

B. Tick the questions that are answered in the text and justify your choice.

£ 1. Where do American runaways stay after leaving their homes?

£ 2. How do American runaways feel in Florida?

£ 3. What dangers do American runaways face?

£ 4. Why do American runaways flee their families?

£ 5. What is the Americans’ reaction towards ‘street kids’?

£ 6. What is the American government’s reaction towards ‘streets kids’?

£ 7. How long do ‘street kids’ live?

£ 8. Where are ‘street kids’ buried?

Key

Exercise A

  1. ‘their’ refers to American runaways.
  2. ‘bad kids’ refers to American runaways
  3. ‘them’ refers to American runaways

Exercise B

  • The questions that are answered in the text are: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8.