This is a question that comes up frequently on the lines…

photo by thepismire via flickr

This is a question that comes up frequently on the lines at the National Runaway Switchboard, and it’s one for which we often can’t provide a totally direct answer. Running away from home usually has negative connotations and, unfortunately, people usually assume teenagers have done something wrong if they’ve run away. Following that is the logical idea that if you run away, you might have to face some legal consequences. Luckily, that’s generally not true.


Like I said, the answer to the question isn’t black and white, but running away is not a legal offense. It won’t be anything that stays on your record; in most cases, it is a status offense, nothing more. If you decided to leave home and run away, it’s likely that your guardian filed a runaway report. When police come across a youth who they know is a runaway, their common reaction is to simply return the youth home. Again, police response varies from case to case; they may decide to take you home, they may leave you alone, or they might take you to the police station, among other actions they may take. But, you have no reason to worry about dealing with legal ramifications. For more clarification, you can always call 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929)to speak with a trained liner at NRS.


– Colin