If you have a really difficult situation at home, running away may seem like the only way to escape. In fact, that’s why most teens run away — to leave behind physical or emotional abuse, school problems, peer pressure, family conflicts, or drugs and alcohol.
No matter how bad things get at home, running away just isn’t the answer. You might really need to get out of your current living situation, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Instead, talk to someone you trust, or contact your local Safe Place program for help. If your town does not have a Safe Place program, contact the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS). The NRS is a national toll-free hotline (1-800-RUNAWAY) serving runaways, homeless, and at risk youth and their families.
Are you thinking about running away?
If you are planning to run away, here are 10 questions you should ask yourself before you leave:
1. What else can I do to improve my home situation before I leave?
2. What would make me stay at home?
3. How will I survive?
4. Is running away safe?
5. Who can I count on to help me?
6. Am I being realistic?
7. Have I given this enough thought?
8. What are my other options?
9. If I end up in trouble, who will I call?
10. When I return home, what will happen?
Running away may seem to solve your immediate problems, but it can create a whole new set of problems that are even worse. You are not alone. Please consider all the options before resorting to life on the streets.
Websites to Visit
Check out these websites for more information about running away:
- National Runaway Switchboard (1-800-RUNAWAY)
- Covenant House Covenant House is a childcare agency that provides residential and non-residential services to homeless and runaway youth.
Reporter’s Sourcebook on Runaway and Homeless Youth (Source: National Runaway Switchboard)
- Between 1.7 and 2.8 million runaway and homeless youth live on the street each year.
- In one study, almost half of the youth interviewed said parent/guardian conflicts were a problem before they left home and landed in a runaway or homeless youth shelter.
- Nearly half of youth in runaway or homeless youth shelters have been kicked out of the home at least once.
- 37% of homeless youth and 23% of runaway youth do not attend school.
- 26% of those in shelters and 32% of those on the street had attempted suicide.
- Nearly half of youth on the street and a third of youth in shelters report having been pregnant in the past.
- A report by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found 21% of runaway/throwaway kids had physical or sexual abuse in their history, or were afraid of suffering abuse if they went home.
- Staff at runaway and homeless shelters report that 63% of the runaways that they work with are depressed, 50% have problems at school, 20% have drug and alcohol abuse problems, 17% have been in the juvenile justice system.