Here are some of the most common reasons that runaway youth have told us why they run away.
I Want to Run Away Because…
Many reasons exist. Each youth has his or her own story of why running away seems the only option. The National Runaway Safeline (NRS) creates an environment for a youth to talk about that story. The stories aren’t easily shared. And NRS has trained its staff and volunteers to listen in a caring and non-judgemental way. By the end of a call or chat, NRS wants each youth to have a plan of action that has been tailored to his or her specific needs. NRS has been serving youth for nearly 45 years. We use our longevity to become experts in helping youth in any situation. And this all starts with us understanding why a youth needs our help.
Here are some of the most common reasons that youth have told us to explain why they run away.
(If you are thinking about running away, you can always contact us by phone at 1-800-RUNAWAY, text us at 66008, or at our website 1800RUNAWAY.org.)
Abuse and neglect may be physical, emotional or sexual. And the youth decides to run away from a home because the unknown life on the streets seems the safer situation.
It is never okay for someone to hit you. It is never okay for a parent or guardian to mistreat you with words. Unfortunately, abuse is still prevalent in our society.
Here are the facts:
- Number of reports of child abuse every year in the United States: 2.9 million.
- Of child abuse cases in 2012, in over 80% of the cases the parent was the perpetrator.
- An estimated 679,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2013.
If you are being abused, reach out for help from organizations like 1-800-RUNAWAY, or 1800RUNAWAY.org or these organizations:
Family dynamics can be any change at home; a divorce, a blended family, a sibling rivalry. It can be that house rules are too strict or a parent doesn’t like a daughter’s friends or a youth feels unloved and unwanted.
Economics has been listed as a reason for running away. NRS’ statistics saw a big increase in connections with homeless youth around the time of the economic collapse of 2008. This was a time when banks failed and families lost their homes because they could not pay their mortgages. Many children were then forced into unstable living situations. Some lived with families of friends, motels, in cars, or some chose to live on the streets. You may be experiencing this, or perhaps sleeping on friends’ couches or on the floor of a cousin’s house.
We have helped youth secure temporary shelter, and programs that have allowed them to transition into permanent housing. As the federally-designated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth, we have the resources to help you stay safe and off the street. Youth like you reach out to us for information at 1-800-RUNAWAY and 1800RUNAWAY.org.
Peer and Social Pressure can also be the reason a youth leaves home. A youth may be being bullied and pressured into doing something wrong or that she or he doesn’t want to do. October is Bullying Prevention Month. It’s an opportunity to remember as a youth or remind a youth that there are resources available. No one is all alone. People care! When being confronted with peer pressure, try doing the following things:
- Ask many questions. If a friend asks you to smoke something, ask them why they smoke, for how long, and how it makes them feel.
- Practice saying “no.” It will not be easy to do at first, but by practicing, it will be easier to assess a situation and discover that it is not for you.
- Leave the situation. Sometimes it’s better just to walk away. It cuts off any argument and relieves having to explain further. You will never regret being able to go home to a safe place with your body intact.
- Reach out: Discuss with a friend, talk to a teacher, OR call 1-800-RUNAWAY and share what’s going on with a caring person trained to help.
Running away is an emotional decision. A youth may feel feel, anger, sadness, loneliness, neglect or hate, all of which can cause them to run away. Everyone feels these emotions. NRS is here to listen, here to help.
In summary, many other reasons exist why youth run away. And if you are one of the youth on the streets, reach out for help and receive assistance from 1-800-RUNAWAY or 1800RUNAWAY.org. Together, we can create a plan of action that will keep you safe. We can connect you to resources anywhere in the country.
For more reasons that youth run away youth and other statistics, visit our Annual Crisis Connections Report.