Learn about the difference between Runaways and Missing Youth
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.