One out of every seven children will run away before they turn 18.
Teens often run away because they feel misunderstood or unwanted by their family or close friends. Other reasons behind teens leaving home are sexual or physical abuse, fear, running from things they have done, depression and feeling as if they are unwanted by those close to them. Often these teens feel they have no other option.
Teens who run away are at a much greater risk for severe anxiety and depression, suicide, poor health and nutrition, and low self-esteem. The majority of runaways ages 14-17, 86 percent, are female, and studies have shown that 34 percent of youth both male and female reported sexual abuse before leaving home.
About 32 percent of runaways and homeless teens have tried to commit suicide. They feel that there is no other option or that they can’t handle the consequences of what they have done.
Numerous foster care transitions play a huge role in some runaway’s lives. It can be hard for teens to be constantly switching homes and schools and can give them the impression that they are unwanted, which can lead to them running away.
Some things to look for are risky behaviors such as dropping grades, drugs, sex, or criminal activity.
So many runaways end up in bad situations because they don’t know where to go. They feel unwanted and don’t want to sleep on the streets because they don’t want anything bad to happen to them. Many teens are afraid that if they go to a help line or an organization, their parents will be contacted, resulting in punishment.
The National Runaway Safeline provides a runaway prevention curriculum for community members who want to be helpful to those in need.
The National Runaway Safeline also has a 24/7 hotline for kids who have run away or are thinking about doing it again. It is not only a place for teens to go when they feel unwanted, but also it is a place for parents and guardians to go if they are worried that their child is contemplating running away.
You can contact the National Runaway Safeline by calling 1-800-786-2929, texting 66008 or visiting their website at 1800RUNAWAY.org.