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Teen runaways: information and tips on national teenage runaway statistics, which teens are at risk for running away, reasons teen runaways run, warning signs a teenager may be considering running away, and ways to prevent teen runaways.
Some troubled teens are high risk for becoming teen runaways when they feel like they can't handle problems at home. This can be a frightening experience for parents and for teens. Those at risk of becoming teen runaways, and their families, need help to resolve their issues and reduce the chances that the teen will actually run away.
According to the National Runaway Switchboard, 1.6 to 2.8 million young people run away every year. Many teen runaways quickly find that running away is worse than the problems they have at home, but they may be afraid to go home. Half of teen runaways who call the National Runaway Switchboard for help have been on their own less than a week.
Teen runaways come from all races, neighborhoods, and families, and they have a variety of reasons for running away:
Whatever their reason for running away, most teen runaways find that it creates many new problems for them, and puts them at risk for serious issues like:
Parents of troubled teens should be aware of signs exhibited by teen runaways before they run, including:
If a parent notices these or other changes in a teen’s behavior they should talk to the teen about their concerns and try to get help for the teen. They can also try these strategies, which may help to reduce the likelihood of the teen becoming another teen runaway:
It is important that parents are willing to talk to their teens and seek help if they suspect their teens are in trouble. A doctor or counselor is a good place to start. Many communities have programs to help families who do not have insurance or cannot afford medical treatment and counseling.
If you have a teen runaway, call the police with a description of the teen. You may also want to call a local, state, and/or national hotline for missing children. These numbers can be found in most phone books.
National Runaway Switchboard, "NRS Statistics on Runaways" [online]
Mike Beebe, Arkansas Office of the Attorney General, "Keys to Safety: A Parent's Guide to Online Safety, Child Abduction, & Runaway Issues" [online]
Seth Doane, CBS News, "Surge of Teen Runaways in Salt Lake City" [online]
National Criminal Justice Reference Services, Abstract Database, Title: Teen Runaways [online]
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