The Youth Runaway Crisis: Everywhere but Here

<b>The Youth Runaway Crisis: Everywhere but Here</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – “Oh, we don’t have a runaway problem here,” is a statement Maureen Blaha often hears during her travels throughout the country as executive director of the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS). “The problem, it seems, is that it’s never ‘here’ when it’s actually everywhere,” she says.

The latest estimate is that from 1.6 million to 2.8 million young people between the ages of 12 and 17 run away every year. More than 50 percent of the youth who call NRS’ 1-800-RUNAWAY crisis hotline are already on the street. Family dynamics and abuse are the top reasons they reach out for help, and calls come from every state across the country.

Blaha offers tips for parents to help prevent their child from running away, as well as suggestions on what to do if they learn their child has run away.

Runaway Prevention:

– Pay Attention. Listen when your child is talking with you. Don’t pretend to listen while watching television, reading the paper or using the computer. Children know the difference.

– Discuss Feelings. When parents share their feelings, children know it is safe to share their own. Talk about what it feels like to be a parent, and encourage them to talk about their feelings.

– Create Responsibility. Give your child choices, not orders. Help them understand the consequences of their actions. When punishments need to be administered, ask what they think would be appropriate. Make sure the punishment fits the “crime” and it is consistent with other actions you have taken.

On the Run:

– Notify the Police. Immediately file a missing person report, keep records of all details of the investigation and stay in touch with authorities. Call 1-800-RUNAWAY. It is available 24 hours and is anonymous and confidential. A specially trained crisis intervention specialist will help process the situation and provide support.

– Tell Others. Let people know that your child is missing. Ask for their help and support. Posters can help if your teen is still in the area. Contact the news departments at the local television and radio stations and newspapers.

– Check Records. There may be some clues about your child’s whereabouts. Look at phone bills, e-mail activity, social media sites, credit card activity, bus or airline dockets, bank statements and employment records for clues.

For more information, visit www.1800RUNAWAY.org or call 1-800-RUNAWAY to talk with a trained front-line team member.

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