5 Quick Facts to Raise Awareness about Runaways

The reasons kids might run away vary, and because it catches parents off guard they are often at a loss what to do.

When we were kids, it became a regular occurrence to see a teen face on the back of a milk carton, and many of those kids were runaways. Sometimes it’s pure rebellion or a need for attention that makes kids take off without warning, but very often it is because their homes are unstable or even unsafe.

It’s November, which is National Runaway Prevention Month. For the sake of educating ourselves, let’s take a look at some facts, strategies, and prevention tips that may surprise you.

  1. An estimated 1.6-2.8 million people under the age of 18 run away each year, an astonishing number if you think about it.1 Many of these kids bounce from friends’ and relatives’ houses until they have nowhere to go and end up on the street. At risk for substance abuse and mental illness, and with very little hope that they will lead normal lives again, the term these kids used to describe themselves is “throw away.”
  1. Runaways far outnumber abductions. In the U.S., less than 1% of missing children were forcibly taken by a stranger.2 So statistically speaking, there is a much greater chance that a child runs away than getting kidnapped.
  1. An overwhelming percentage of runaways have been diagnosed with ADHD. The numbers fluctuate depending on the diagnostics, but studies indicate that between 60%-90% of kids that run away are ADHD.3 To read more about the implications of ADHD, check out this past post: (insert link here).
  1. Other factors determine runaway predictability. Dysfunctional and single parent homes below the poverty line are a strong influence, but other pressures include LGBT status in an intolerant household, misuse of prescription drugs, and children in the foster care system.3
  1. Runaways are less likely to finish school and more likely to turn to illegal activities. From 2000-2009, panhandling among those under 18 went up 228%4.
  1. Families can get help. The National Runaway Safetyline is a non-profit organization that provides a 24-hour hotline for youth and families. Trained professionals will listen to your situation and walk you through the steps to access services in your area. http://www.1800runaway.org/
  1. Addressing the underlying issues is the most powerful prevention tool. If your teen is having discipline issues that regularly lead to acting out and battle-of-wills confrontations, get professional help. There could be behavioral conditions, health issues, or mood disorders that affect decision-making.

 

It’s normal to go through a rebellious period but most adolescents will return home if they know on a profound level that they are loved and supported. As a society, we need to take a cold hard look at the precursors to running away and child homelessness and raising awareness is a good place to start.

For more information about organizations that are taking positive action against runaways: http://nationalsafeplace.org/safe-place-teens/running-away/.

 

 

References:

  1. http://www.1800runaway.org/runaway-prevention-month/
  2. http://www.pollyklaas.org/enews-archive/2013-enews/article-web-pages/the-truth-about-runaways.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/?referrer=http://www.pollyklaas.org/enews-archive/2013-enews/article-web-pages/the-truth-about-runaways.html#.V6jwGJMrJp4
  3. http://www.1800runaway.org/runaway-statistics/third-party-statistics/
  4. http://www.1800runaway.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Why-They-Run-Report.pdf

About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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