Whether you’re a parent dealing with a runaway teen or just someone looking to learn more about the subject, the information herein will cover just about everything you need to know about runaway youth.
The definition of a runaway
“Runaway” is a blanket term that may not accurately describe every situation, but for the purposes herein, we’ll refer to a runaway youth as any child under 18 who leaves their home as a result of distress or family dynamics. The term is also usually extended to underage youth who are kicked out of the house by their parents, since there’s a lot of overlap and ambiguity between these two categories of “running away” and being told to leave. To fit the legal definition of a runaway, a youth typically must be gone for more than 24 hours.
Runaway youth: An at-risk population
Not all runaways are troubled. Many teens run away as a means of manipulating their parents or rebelling against parental authority. But troubled youth as a whole are especially prone to running away. In fact, dealing with children who repeatedly run away from home is one of the most common issues that parents of troubled teens have to contend with.
“The population is much more disturbed than the runaways who were being seen 20 or 30 years ago,” says Victoria Wagner, chief executive of the National Network for Youth, a coalition of agencies that serve troubled young people. “There are more mental health issues, more substance abuse, more coming from violent home situations.” (Irvine, 2008) Not all of these issues are a teen’s problem, of course. Parental substance abuse is contributing to widespread abuse and neglect, and the meth epidemic in particular has been driving more runaways, according to Kathleen Boutin, director of the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. (ibid)
Information on runaway children & teens
The following pages will provide additional information on this subject:
- Runaway statistics
- Why kids run away
- Manipulative runaways (e-book)
- Where runaways go & finding a runaway
- What runaways do in order to survive (e-book)
- What to do if your child runs away
- Getting a runaway child to come back home
- Harboring a runaway
- When kids threaten to run away from home
- Helping runaway youth