Running Away

Menstuff® provides information for teens who are considering running away or are runaways. Other Emergency Services.


For Teenagers | For Parents

Support for Teeagers:

I am a runaway. What can I do?
Crisis Intervention
Getting in Touch While On the Run
Information & Referrals
Going Home
Questions to ask yourself before you run away
Family Communication Tips

Support for Parents:

Crisis Intervention
Message Service
Information & Referrals
Searching for Runaways
Family Communication Tips

Support for Teachers

Being the parent of a teenager isn't easy. The National Runaway Switchboard is available 24 hours a day. They're confidential and they're free. They can help. Talk to them 24/7.
Snippets
Related Issues: Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, Teen Suicide, Teen Health, Teen Sex, Children, Adolescence
Links to Regional Resources
Emergency Teen Resources
Emergency Resources

Snippets


  • Every day, between 1.3 and 2.8 million runaway and homeless youth live on the streets of America.
  • One out of seven children will run away before 18
  • A runaway youth is a person under 18 who absents themselves from home or place of legal residence without the permission of parents or legal guardians.
  • A homeless youth is a person under 18 who is in need of services and without a place of shelter where they receive supervision and care.
  • In 1989, the GAO Report on Homelessness reported 1,300,000 homeless or runaway youth or 2% of all children under 18 in the US. 21% were classified as homeless, 79% were runaways.
  • Teenage males represent 55% of homeless youth and only 35% of runaways.
  • Teenage females represent 65% of runaways and only 45% of homeless youth.
  • 56% of homeless and 66% of runaways come from two parent households. 36% homeless and 31% runaway come from one parent households.
  • Whites represent 81% of youth in the US but only 56% of homeless and 66% of runaway youth.
  • Blacks represent 23% of total youth in the US and represent 36% of homeless and 31% of runaways.
  • The remaining 3% of youth represent 8% of homeless and 3% of runaways
  • 74% of teenage runaways are girls
  • 86% of teenage runaways are between 14-17. However, 3% are under 10 and the remainder are in the 11-13 age-group (11%).
  • 64% of teenage calls come from runaways. 22% from youth in crisis, 10% from those considering running away, 3% throwaways and 1% homeless.
  • The major issues are Family Dynamics (47%), Peer/Social (15%, Abuse (8%), School (8%), Youth Services 7%, Home Free 6%, Alcohol/Drug Abuse (5%), Mental Health (5), Judicial System (3%) and Sexuality (1%),
  • The length of time youth was on the run at time of call to NRS:  39% within 3 days; 22% from 4-7 days; 15% from 1-4 weeks, 19% from 1-6 months, and 5% over 6 months.
  • 35% of all runaway youths had run before.
  • Nationally, 40% of all runaway youth cross state lines.

For Teenagers

Are you thinking about running away?
Do you sometimes have problems talking with your parents?
Have you ever been so angry that you thought about leaving home?
Are you having problems at home?
Do you have a friend who wants to run away?
Are you under pressure with your friends or at school?

Crisis Intervention


The National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) can help you talk it out. They're here to listen! All calls are CONFIDENTIAL and they're available 24 hours a day, 366 days a year. They won't tell you what to do and they're not here to give out advice. They aim to help you help yourself. They use crisis intervention to work through problems and find a plan of action. Help is available. Call 1-800-621-4000 now to speak with someone.

Crisis Invervention is a five-step model to help people in crisis. The five steps are:

  • Establish Rapport
  • Explore Facts & Feelings
  • Focus on the Main Issue(s)
  • Explore Options
  • Establish a Plan of Action

The goal of crisis intervention is to help you help yourself. They will use active listening skills to help you process your feelings and the facts about your situation. They will ask questions about the nature of the crisis. They might ask about your relationships with the people in your house and details about communication patterns. It's important for them to make a thorough assessment of your situation and see it from your perspective. Remember, they don't know you or anything about your life. They don't ask questions to be nosey but to look for the source of the problems and trouble. Sometimes the problem is fairly obvious, but in the middle of a crisis it's hard to know which way is up! They can help you to sort it out. They focus on how to control and manage the crisis situation. The NRS will discuss informal and formal options and give appropriate referrals. They have a huge database of agencies and services that can be of assistance. www.nrscrisisline.org/links.htm Finally, they'll help you to develop a detailed plan of action! Help is available! Call 1-800-621-4000 to talk with someone now.

Getting in Touch While On the Run


The NRS can help you get a message to your parents even while you're on the run. Their services are confidential so they won't tell your parents any more than you want them to tell. There are two ways for you to contact your parents: Messages and conference calls.

  • Messages: If you are away from home, they can deliver a message to your parents for you. You give they the message and they'll call to deliver it. You can even ask that your parents to leave a message for you in return. The rule is that the messages must be constructive. They won't help you tell your parents that you hate them or that you never plan on coming home. They will help you say how you're feeling and what you want to see happen. Runaways have left messages like, "I just want you to know that I'm okay. I hope we can work things out." and "I know this doesn't really help but I was really angry at you. I want to come home. Is that okay?" A message card is sometimes a good way to start communicating with your parents. It's safe and it's simple. You can call 1-800-621-4000 to get a message delivered to your parents.
  • Conference Calls only happen if you want them to. If you are on the run and feel ready to talk with your parents, the NRS will help you call them. They will stay on the line with you and your parents and help you talk things out. Talking with your parents while you're away can be a hard thing to do and they're there to provide support. Conference calls must be productive and they work to help both you and your parents really talk about how you feel and what's happening at home. If you're ready to talk and would like some help, you can call them at 1-800-621-4000 and we'll help you make the call home.

Information & Referrals


Do you know where to go to find the help you need? Do you have more questions than answers? Where do you find information that you can use?

NRS might not have all the answers, but they'll help you find people and places that do. The NRS has over 100,000 resources that you can use. www.nrscrisisline.org/links.htm They have books that list thousands of different support groups, hotlines, and counseling centers. They have books that discuss legal issues, medical questions, and drug treatment centers. They have listings of runaway shelters and they'll help you call them to ask specific questions about staying there.

Going Home


The NRS administers a program for Greyhound Buslines that helps some runaways get home for free. The rules are: you must be a runaway between the ages of 12-18, you must be returning to your legal guardian, and there has to be a verifiable runaway report filed with your hometown police department. The process starts when you call the NRS at 1-800-621-4000. They will talk to you about why you ran and what makes you feel ready to return home. Then they'll make a conference call between you and your legal guardian. They will ask your legal guardian for a copy of your runaway report. Then the NRS will contact Greyhound with you to make travel arrangements.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Run Away


  • What else can I do to improve my home situation before I leave?
  • What would make me stay at home?
  • How will I survive?
  • Is running away safe?
  • Who can I count on to help me?
  • Am I being realistic?
  • Have I given this enough thought?
  • What are my other options?
  • If I end up in trouble, who will I call?
  • When I return home, what will happen?

You can call the National Runway Switchboard at 1-800-421-4000 any time of the day or night. Whether you are thinking of running or have run, they can help you.

Family Communication Tips


  • Set aside time to talk every day.
  • Don't expect your family to read your mind.
  • Be specific about your expectations and requests.
  • Have patience, good communication takes time and effort.
  • Brainstorm ideas before making a final decision.
  • Ask for input from all family members.
  • Write things down; make a list of changes you want to see.
  • Be willing to comprimise.
  • Do fun things together.
  • Use community resources when you need help.

There are people and places in your community that can help your family communicate better. For ideas and referrals, call the National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-621-4000.

For Parents

Are you having problems communicating with your teen?
Do you sometimes fight about school, household responsibilities, or friends?
Is it hard being a single parent or trying to blend two families together?
Has your child run away or are they threatening to run away?

Crisis Intervention
Message Service
Information & Referrals
Searching for Runaways
Family Communication Tips

Crisis Intervention


NRS can help you just by talking. They know how hard it can be to find a good listener but that's what they do best. They use the crisis intervention model to work through problems and develop a plan of action. Sometimes an outside party will have a different perspective on the situation. It can help to talk to a stranger about it and get their feedback. It's okay if you just need to vent. There can be a lot of pressure and frustration at home and it's alright to call and tell us how you're feeling. Help is available! Call 1-800-621-4000 to speak with someone now.

Crisis Intervention is a five-step model to help people in crisis. The five steps are:

  • Establish Rapport
  • Explore Facts & Feelings
  • Focus on the Main Issue(s)
  • Explore Options
  • Establish a Plan of Action

The goal of crisis intervention is to help you help yourself. They will use active listening skills to help you process your feelings and the facts about your situation. They will ask questions about the nature of the crisis. They might ask about your relationships with the people in your house and details about communication patterns. It's important for them to make a thorough assessment of your situation and see it from your perspective. Remember, they don't know you or anything about your life. They don't ask questions to be nosey but to look for the source of the problems and trouble. Sometimes the problem is fairly obvious, but in the middle of a crisis it's hard to know which way is up! They can help you sort it out. They focus on how to control and manage the crisis cituation. The NRS will discuss informal and formal options and give appropriate referrals. They have a huge database of agencies and services that can be of assistance. www.nrscrisisline.org/links.htm Finally, they'll help you to develop a detailed plan of action. Help is available! Call 1-800-621-4000 to talk with someone now.

Message Service


The NRS runs a message service to help parents and runaways communicate. If your child is away from home, you leave a message for them with NRS. Parents have left messages like, "We love you and miss you and want you to come home" and "Please call and let someone know you're alright. We're very worried. We want to work things out." Once you leave your message with the NRS, call anyone you think might have contact with your child. Tell them that you have left a message with the NRS and your child can call confidentially to pick up the message at 1-800-621-4000. Messages are a safe way for runaways to get information from you and to you. If they call NRS, they will offer to deliver a message from them back to you. It's a good way to initiate communication. Leaving a message is quick and simple. Call 1-800-621-4000 to leave a message.

Information & Referrals


If you need some phone numbers for places that can help, NRS can get you connected to the right resources. They can help make calls to find the right ones for you.

A popular request is family counseling. Family counseling is a great resource for everyone. Many parents want their kids to get some help that will ultimately change their behavior. Sometimes to really help the kids, parents need to go, too. Sometimes it helps parents to go even if the youth doesn't. Some people think counseling means failure or weakness but it really means strength and hope. Counseling can provide on-going support for situations that may have been months or even years in the making. Counseling is a tool to help people to help themselves. Counselors know that you are the true expert on your situation. They just try to help you find ways to deal with problems happening in your life. A good way to start is by calling people or agencies that provide counseling services and talking with them. The NRS can give you those numbers.

Searching for Runaways


Is your child a runaway? Have they left home without your permission? Being the parent of a missing or runaway child is a terrible situation with feelings of desperation, frustration, or anxiety. Here are some ideas for how to conduct a search:

  • Make a runaway or missing persons report to your local police department
  • Contact your child's friends and also talk with their parents
  • Call people in your child's address book
  • Contact relatives, employers, coaches, and youth group members
  • Leave a message with the NRS
  • Contact your child's school administration, teachers, and security
  • Check ATM transactions and phone bills
  • See if any credit cards are missing
  • Call places that can help you with poster or photo distribution (The NRS can give you these numbers)
  • Think about what to say or do when your child returns home
  • Find support for yourself during this time of crisis

Family Communication Tips

  • Set aside time to talk every day.
  • Don't expect your family to read your mind.
  • Be specific about your expectations and requests.
  • Have patience, good communication takes time and effort.
  • Brainstorm ideas before making a final decision.
  • Ask for input from all family members.
  • Write things down; make a list of changes you want to see.
  • Be willing to comprimise.
  • Do fun things together.
  • Use community resources when you need help.

There are people and places in your community that can help your family communicate better. For ideas and referrals, call the National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-621-4000.

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You cannot meet the crisis of today tomorrow. - Saul Alinsky

 



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