Lost boys are boys and young men who are exiled from communities which practice polygamy. These are forced out of their communities due to concerns about a shortage of brides; in a community where people regularly take multiple wives, clearly a large number of women is needed to satisfy the need for brides. One way to ensure that there are enough women in the community to go around is to exile young men, typically using relatively mild infractions of community rules as an excuse for exile.
The plight of lost boys was brought to the attention of the general public in 2005, when numerous boys exiled from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) were profiled in the media. Some of these boys had been exiled as young as 13, and many were simply told to leave, or dumped by the side of the road. Older men who had left the Mormon Church began to reach out to the lost boys, attempting to help them make their way in the world, and this attracted media attention.
For the lost boys, their situation is disorienting and quite depressing. Many people who are raised in the FLDS are brought up on compounds, and taught that they should regard the outside world with distrust. They may be provided with minimal education and skills, and they are repeatedly told that they will not go to heaven if they leave the FLDS, and if they fail to take at least three brides.
When lost boys are thrust into the outside world, they must contend with the trauma of leaving their families forever, while also coming to grips with the idea that they have been summarily chucked out of the religion into which they were raised. Since many lack the basic skills needed for survival, they struggle to make a living, Some men expelled from Mormon sects later go on to be activists, speaking out against conditions in fundamentalist sects and supporting others who wish to leave the church, or who are exiled from it.
In some cases, lost boys have complained to law enforcement about conditions inside fundamentalist compounds, citing child abuse and other breaches of the law. Reports of illegal situations have sometimes sparked law enforcement investigations or raids, causing relations between FLDS groups and the outside world to deteriorate even more. Essentially, a sort of vicious cycle is created in which law enforcement raids are used to promote the idea that the outside world is dangerous and untrustworthy.