Help keep teenage runaways off the streets
An estimated 100,000 children run away from home each year. Although the majority of teenage runaways are aged between 14 and 15, children as young as 11 are known to run away too. Shockingly, many of these children will run away more than once in 12 months – some will run away over 60 times in a 12 month period.
Teenagers can run away for a variety of different reasons. This can include being subjected to violence, sexual abuse and verbal abuse. Even if this is not being inflicted in the home, often the physical act of running away makes children feel like they are leaving their problems behind.
Issues at school and neglect are also factors that can lead to a teenager running away from home. If a child is being bullied at school, doing badly at their work or they are in trouble with teachers, a child may feel too scared or powerless to face the consequences. If a child is suffering from neglect, they may be convinced that their family would be better off without them being there or that a better life awaits them out on the streets.
None of these issues should be reasons for a teenager to run away from home; life on the streets is incredibly dangerous and should never be considered as a viable option. Many teenage runaways resort to crime to survive. The harsh reality is that running away can lead a teenager through a downward spiral with no money, nowhere to live and no one to look out for them. It is vital that teenagers are made aware of this if they seem close to running away.
As a parent or trusted guardian, there are ways you can reduce the risk of your child becoming a runaway. The first thing to do is teach your child problem-solving skills. Make sure they understand that every problem can be worked through, rather than ran away from. Other techniques include simply talking to your child daily; ask them how they are doing. If they seem upset, ask them what has happened to make them feel that way. You should also make sure they know that running away is a waste of time and extremely dangerous. Ensure that they know even if they do run away, they will always have a supportive home to come back to.
Lastly, be understanding about any problems your child may share with you. Take them seriously and listen to what they have to say. Be honest with them about anything they should know about, whether it’s the introduction of a new step-parent, a new sibling or a divorce. And last but not least, show children and teenagers respect – after all, the only way to earn respect is to show it. Find out how you can help young runaways in your area by visiting our site or making a donation to Make Runaways Safe.