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Runaways

an article by our site

One out of every seven children will run away before the age of eighteen (Source: National Runaway Switchboard, 2006)
One out of every seven children will run away before the age of eighteen (Source: National Runaway Switchboard, 2006)

The National Youth Work Alliance in 1985 estimates there to be over 1 million runaways each year in the U.S. The majority return home on their own in a few days. (National Youth Work Alliance, Factsheet, 1985)

Between 1.6 (in 2002) and 2.8 (in 1992) million youth run away in a year. (Hammer, H., Finkelhor, D., & Sedlak, A., 2002, Runaway / Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics. National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Greene, J., 1995, Youth with Runaway, Throwaway, and Homeless Experiences: Prevalence, Drug Use, and Other At-Risk Behaviors, Research Triangle Institute, HHS, ACF - ACYF)

Youth aged 12-17 are at higher risk for homelessness than adults. (Link, B., Susser, E., Stueve, A., Phelan, J., Moore, R., Struening, E., 1994, Lifetime and Five-year Prevalence of Homelessness in the United States, American Journal of Public Health Vol. 84, No. 12. pp 1907-1912 and Ringwalt, C., Greene, J., Robertson, M., & McPheeters, M., 1998, The Prevalence of Homelessness Among Adolescents in the United States, American Journal of Public Health Vol. 88, Issue 9)

Over 2/3 of runaways are 15-17 years old in 2002. (Hammer, H., Finkelhor, D., & Sedlak, A., 2002, Runaway / Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics. National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention)

Over 2/3 of runaways were 15-17 years old in 2002
Over 2/3 of runaways were 15-17 years old in 2002

In January 1988, 300,000 children were thought to be "hard-core" runaways, meaning permanently on the streets. Many runaways become street people or live in shelters and many have AIDS. ("Coming of Age on City Streets," Psychology Today, January 1988, p. 32)

Estimates are that as many as 50,000 youth sleep on the streets in the United States. (National Alliance to End Homelessness, Youth, 2013)

On May 16, 1990, CNN reported that about 1.5 million young people run away per year. In a 1988 Canadian study it was reported that 86 percent were running from some form of physical abuse at home. Eighty-six percent reported physical abuse that was bad enough to leave scars; 13 percent had been hit hard enough to require a trip to the hospital. Despite its dangers, the street may be offering relative safety. Young girls reported 26 percent less physical abuse on the street than at home. ("Running From Home—and Danger," Psychology Today, September, 1989, p. 10)

"According to the National Runaway Switchboard (2006), there are between 1.3 and 2.8 million runaway and homeless youths in America at any point in time. Other studies show that one out of every seven children will run away before the age of eighteen (NRS, 2006). The U.S. Department of Justice gives slightly lower numbers, indicating that close to 1.7 million children run away from home each year or are cast out." (Source: Missing Children: Incidences and Characteristics of Runaway Children and Resources Available to Them, by Stacy Daniels and M.A. Brennan, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy855)

"Always trying to escape that 'Home-not-so-sweet-Home' feeling, Runaways are always running home. Mostly it's shame that makes Runaway run. Shame related to poverty, shame related to abuse, shame related to having one or two addicted parents, shame related to some imposition by the antics of the parents into the child's life, etc." (Traversing the Inner Terrain: The search for the Authentic Self, by Andrea Mathews, "Run Away, Run Away, Run Away Home!", 2011)

In 1990, 1.5 million young people ran away per year; in 2006, it was 1.7 million
In 1990, 1.5 million young people ran away per year; in 2006, it was 1.7 million

Why run away?

Around 47% of runaway / homeless youth indicated that conflict between them and their parent or guardian was a major problem. (Westat, Inc. 1997. National Evaluation of Runaway and Homeless Youth. Washinton, DC: US Dep't of HHS, Admin on Children, Youth and Families)

Over 50% of youth in shelters and on the streets reported that their parents either told them to leave or knew they were leaving but did not care. (Greene, J., 1995, Youth with Runaway, Throwaway, and Homeless Experiences: Prevalence, Drug Use, and Other At-Risk Behaviors Research Triangle Institute, HHS. ACF - ACYF)

80% of runaway and homeless girls reported having ever been sexually or physically abused. 34% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported sexual abuse before leaving home and forty-three percent of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported physical abuse before leaving home (Molnar, B., Shade, S., Kral, A., Booth, R., & Watters, J., 1998, Suicidal Behavior and Sexual / Physical Abuse Among Street Youth. Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 22, NO. 3, pp. 213-222)