Last updated on 12/10/08
What should I do if my child is a runaway?
One in seven kids between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away at some point, and there are 1 million to 3 million runaway and homeless kids living on the streets in the United States. Many people who decide to run away envision a life that is exciting, glamorous, and mature, only to discover that it is not the kind of life they get. Life for runaway teens is hard, and they often end up homeless, stealing, or even selling drugs or sex in an effort to make money. Every year in the United States, more than 5,000 runaway teens die, from assault, illness, or suicide.
People tend to run away for a variety of reasons, including abuse, family problems, or problems with school or their friends. Others run away because of alcohol or drug problems in themselves or a family member’s, and some even run away to be with someone. It is rare for a happy, well-adjusted child to run away from home. Rather than wait for a problem to escalate beyond control, parents should communicate with their children and be open to discuss any issues they may have. A home should have a warm, loving environment; an environment that no child will ever want to leave.
In the Jewish Community
Although the terrifying statistics mentioned above are not accurate for the Jewish community, one would be wrong to assume that Jewish kids do not run away from home. Some Jewish children not only run away because of the reasons previously listed, but also do it to escape a religious lifestyle. In September of 2003, two religious girls from Boropark made headlines when they ran away to Arizona. It is wrong to judge the actions of those girls or their families, yet it is imperative to learn the lesson it implies. Communicate with your children before it becomes too late. A child who has a positive relationship with his parents will not want to leave home.
Use the following links to educate yourself about kids who run away from home. Learn why kids run away from home, what to do if your child has run away, and where to go for help.
Frequently Asked Links
Why do kids run away from home?
What are some signs that my teen might be thinking about running away from home?
What are some of the characteristics of runaway children?
What should I do if my child is thinking about running away from home? more
What should I do if my child runs away from home? more more
What steps can I take to locate my child?
What are some of the risks that runaway youth face?
What should I do when my runaway child returns home?
How can my child deal with a friend who is talking about running away?
Why Do I Fight With My Parents So Much?
Part of being a teen is developing your own identity - one that is separate from the identities of your parents. Read this article to discover why you and your parents seem to be constantly at odds.
Resources for At-Risk Youth in the Jewish Community
Compiled by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Childhelp USA is dedicated to meeting the physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual needs of abused and neglected children. Call: (800) 4-A-CHILD
National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC)
NCPC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent crime and build safer, more caring communities.
National Runaway Switchboard
This site provides information and support for runaway and homeless kids and teens. Call: (800) 621-4000
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
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