Learn about the difference between Runaways and Missing Youth

photo by jamelah via flickr

The Difference Between Runaways and Missing Youth

The terms ‘runaway’ and ‘missing’ are often used interchangeably by some people, but they are not seen as the same in the eyes of the law. The majority of youth who leave home without permission are seen as ‘runaways’ by law enforcement and are usually entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) as runaways. Runaways are usually seen as youth who leave home by choice, are not in danger, may return home, and do not want to be found. ‘Missing’, on the other hand, implies an unexplained disappearance (voluntarily or involuntarily). Missing can be applied to adults and minors, whereas runaway is a term used only for minors. Individuals who are reported as missing are also entered into the NCIC. However, missing individuals are actively sought in most cases and runaways are not. If you want to determine whether a minor is considered missing or a runaway, it’s best to contact your local police department and provide the details on their disappearance.

– Dyanne

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  • paris

    At school I am learing about why children run away because of the parents or family hurting them and beating them. Can you give me a percentage of how many children run away because of their parents or family beating or hurting them.
    Thank you xx

  • Jasleen

    Hi Paris

    We only have stats on youth who call us, and that can be found here on our stats page. We also have a research section on our website that might be able to help, and that can be found here.

  • jennifer

    I use to be a runaway when i was 13-17 move out at 17years old drop out if high school .