Supplemental Fact Sheet


Supplemental Research Fact Sheet

The National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) has released supplemental research to May 2010’s report Why They Run: An In-depth Look at America’s Runaway Youth. This new research sheds further light on the runaway problem in America. It was conducted and compiled for NRS by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). Researchers conducted a survey in high schools in Chicago and Los Angeles to obtain general information about youths’ knowledge and access of services for runaway youths. A total of 1,246 students were surveyed—963 in L.A., 283 in Chicago. Below are key findings from the supplemental research.

Key Findings

Running Away: Contemplation and Experience

  • Nearly two in five students had at sometime considered running away; nearly one quarter had considered it "somewhat" or "very" seriously.
  • Girls were more likely than boys to have considered running away (48 percent compared with 39 percent). Girls were more likely than boys to have considered running away "somewhat" or "very" seriously (27 percent compared with 18 percent).
  • Youth in step-families were the most likely to have considered running away "somewhat" or "very" seriously (33 percent), followed by youth in households without a biological parent (27 percent), youth in single-parent families (25 percent), and youth living with both biological parents (19 percent).
  • Although 16 percent of responding students had run away at some time, not all said they had ever thought about running away. Consistent with the interviews of youth in shelters and on the street, a sizable portion of runaway episodes may be unplanned spur of the moment decisions.
  • Few youth with runaway experience or who have seriously considered running away have contacted a service intended to help runaways.
  • There appears to be a social network in schools among youth who have run away or have seriously considered running away.

Knowledge of Services for Runaway Youth

  • Youth have little knowledge of services available to help runaway youth, even if they have past runaway experience or have seriously thought about running away.
  • However, youth with past runaway experience have more knowledge about available services than youth with no past runaway experience.
  • Less than one quarter of responding students say their school provides information on services available to help youth who have run away.
  • Students who say their school provides information are more informed about available services than other students.

How Youth Would Get Help

  • Youth turn primarily to friends for help if they feel they can’t talk to their parents.
  • Youth do not know about hotlines and would not call one if they were to run away; only 13 percent of youth who have seriously considered running away say they would call a hotline.
  • Youth wouldn’t call hotlines because they don’t have the number; don’t want to tell others their business; wouldn’t want to be found; have other help; don’t trust hotlines; don’t think they need help; or believe it would not do any good or that hotline staff would not understand their situation.
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