Parents & Adults

What To Do If Your Child Runs Away From Home


Realizing that your child has run away from home is filled with emotion - anger that she would do such a thing; fear for her safety; shame that others may think that you are not a "good" parent.

While some children run across city or state lines, statistics indicate that most children stay in the same general area that they live in. Some go only as far as a friend or relative. Wherever your child has gone, there are certain steps that are necessary not only for a safe return, but to protect both her rights and yours.

Notify the police and file a missing persons report. Keep records of all details of the investigation and stay in touch with authorities while your child is missing. Call the National Runaway Safeline at 1-800-RUNAWAY. NRS operates a 24-hour confidential hotline for teens and their families. Services include crisis intervention, information, referrals, and the Home Free program in partnership with Greyhound Lines, Inc. Specially trained volunteers at the hotline will help you process the situation and give you support.

Leave a message with the NRS for your child. Spread the word among your friends and your child’s friends that you have done this and to encourage him/her to call. Your child can also leave messages for you.

Tell others that your teen is missing. Let them know that you are concerned and ask for their help and support. Posters can help if your teen is still in the area or contact the news desk of your local television station or newspaper.

Check any records that may give clues about your child’s whereabouts. Look at phone bills, e-mail activity, pager records, credit card activity, bus or airline dockets, bank statements, and employment records.

Visit your child’s school. Talk to the administration, security, teachers, or counselor for any information that might be useful. Install Caller ID or other tracing methods, if available in your area.

Contact hotlines for parents of missing children. If you think your child was abducted or you need assistance in distributing posters nationwide. NRS can provide you with national and local referrals.

Take care of yourself and your other children. This is a difficult time and you don’t have to deal with it alone. Turn to people you know and trust for support. NRS is available 24 hours every day for you.

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