This is an informational blog for parents, aunties, any adult– to understand the runaway and some of the resources available.
To any youth who may be planning on running away. Please let someone know where you are. If you can go to a family member or close friend, that’s a good choice. The critical thing is your safety and well-being. Always try and keep in mind that situations do change and there are people who care.
When I was fourteen I ran away from home. My mom caught me smoking and got so mad she yelled and screamed and wouldn’t let the issue go.
At 14, I thought I was pretty grown-up. I earned my own money through babysitting and soon after I turned 15 I got a job at McDonald’s. For the most part, I played by the rules, got decent grades, and didn’t give my parents too many worries. Being yelled at for smoking seemed so over the top to me, I had one of those short-sighted moments that many teens experience–I packed a bag and left.
By the time I got to the end of the street, I had no idea where I was headed. I had older siblings who’d let me stay but instead I went to the elementary school nearby, sat on the concrete fire escape stairs, and chain-smoked cigarettes.
It was ridiculous really and a few hours later I walked home, marched straight past my mom, and went to my bedroom. That particular fight was over.
I was lucky as a teen though because I had three older sisters. Each married by the time I was twelve and all lived relatively close. They were my safe place—they were my “auntie” figures. There were many times I’d seek out refuge at a sister’s house. I knew I’d never be turned away.
The thing for me is that growing up–I had a safe home. I didn’t always agree with the rules but could work my way around them. I was in no physical or mental danger I simply wanted to spread my wings.
Knowing what I know now, my outlook on running away is one of fear, frustration, and futility.
Fear—I fear for you, the young person, who may be persuaded to make choices against their will. Is someone pushing you to leave? A boyfriend? A pimp?
I fear for a youth’s safety, their future, their life.
Fear is one of those things that also drive the kids.
The fear of getting into even more trouble if they return home or tell someone what’s going on in their lives. There could also be a fear of not knowing what’s going to happen in their given situation. This could include things like pregnancy, gender confusion, or varying degrees of bullying or abuse.
There’s also the fear that perhaps the missing child hasn’t run away but been abducted. There are instances of kidnapping by parents, strangers, boyfriends…the list goes on.
Frustration—some of the frustration comes from the fact that some of the situations could be avoided with communication.
Parents can be frustrated over the secrecy. Kids can feel like they’re constantly judged and not listened to.
Kids need to have someone to trust and perhaps even be able to advocate for their rights.
In Canada, kids can contact The Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 or text 68 68 68 https://kidshelpphone.ca Check out the site for more information and resources.
Futility—I know when I was 14 no one could have told me what to do.
It was futile to try and box me in and try and control me.
I was a fighter.
Many runaways are looking for some degree of control over their own life. Sometimes this is a small issue like mine when I was a kid but other times it’s monumental and a young person has problems seeing past the initial problem right in front of them let alone the mountain that needs to be climbed.
For many young people, things are immediate and the future is a million miles away.
It can be futile to try and convince them of change.
The following is from MissingKids.ca https://missingkids.ca/en/how-can-we-help/ Check out the site for information and resources.
It is important to understand why youth run away and what factors increase the risk that a youth might run away. (Reasons) include both youth and family-related issues that increase an adolescent’s vulnerability towards running away, and is accompanied by prevention and intervention strategies to assist families.
No matter the circumstances under which your child went missing or how long your child has been missing, MissingKids.ca caseworkers are here to help. We can help by:
- Providing support and assistance in the search for your missing child
- Assisting in coordinating the efforts of the various stakeholders involved
- Using innovative online and offline search tools
- Providing resources to help guide communities on how best to assist in the search for your missing child
- Distributing a missing child alert through our MissingKidsALERT system. Using a targeted system to rapidly distribute critical information in a missing child case, MissingKidsALERT allows the public to serve as the eyes and ears for searching families and police.
2 thoughts on “How Can We Understand the Thoughts of the Runaway?”
Important column. Great information – especially during these challenging times and with summer coming on.
thanks Patti. xo