According to The Children’s Society, over 100,000 British teens run away from home every year and unfortunately this number only climbs higher when missing teens are taken into account as well.
Teens leave, or are taken, from home for a number of reasons but regardless of the motivation if a teen is missing it must be reported.
Teens alone on the streets are vulnerable to any number of appalling situations and whether they know it or not, they need adult help to put their lives back together.
If you know of a missing or runaway teen, do not hesitate to alert the authorities.
Reasons Teens Run Away or Go Missing from Home
There are many reasons that teens run away or go missing from home, but the truth of the matter is that the reasons can be as unique as the teens themselves. Many common motivations include:
- To escape violence in the home
- To escape physical, sexual or emotional abuse in the home
- Because the teen has become pregnant, or has fathered a child
- Due to arguments within the family
- Due to drug abuse or addiction
- Attempts to return to a prior family home or to escape care homes
- Absent parents who have taken the child/teen
- Strangers who have abducted the child/teen
Signs a Teen May Run Away from Home
If a child is abducted, there is usually no way that a parent could have missed signs to this affect, but there may be signs that a teen is considering running away from home. As a parent you must keep your eyes open for:
- Changes in behavioural patterns – sleeping, eating, socialising, etc. – that could indicate that there is something wrong in the teen’s world
- Rebellious behaviour including truancy or exclusions, breaking household rules, and staying away from home
- An accumulation of money or possessions. If a teen begins stockpiling items it may mean that they intend to leave with them at some point
- Admissions from your teen that they are unhappy or troubled, or admissions from others that your teen has confessed a desire to run away. As a parent you must take any such admissions seriously and confront your teen immediately.
Conditions for Teens on the Streets
Unfortunately, teens who have run away or gone missing from home often fall prey to a variety of awful conditions on the streets.
Teens who have not been emancipated (legally given independence from their parents or guardians) often have very few rights to live or work independently and thus must subsist by other means. Often teens turn to:
- Dealing drugs
- Sleeping in the streets, public transport systems or abandoned buildings
- Underground or black market work in an attempt to make money
- Relying on the help of any number of “friends” in similar situations
Reporting Missing or Runaway Teens
With such a bleak existence, many teens are unable to find help of their own accord. Instead, adults must report missing or runaway teens in order to get them the help they deserve.
In the UK many organisations are available to support missing or runaway teens, including:
- Local police forces (by calling 999 from any phone)
- The Children’s Society (call 0845 300 1128 for the Supporter Action Line)
- Childline (children and young people can dial 0800 1111 for help)
- Missing Kids UK (log on to http://missingkids.co.uk)
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (their Child Protection Line is available at 0808 800 5000)
- Reunite (for families of abducted children – contact the Advice Line at 0116 2556 234)
Missing and runaway teens deserve help. As a parent of a teen, keep your eyes open to the signs that something may be wrong in your child’s life or that (s)he may be considering running away.
If the worst does happen and your child does go missing or run away from home, contact authorities immediately.
Remember, the sooner you report a missing or runaway teen the sooner they can get help.