The Cleveland Ohio kidnappings brought a chill to my heart, even though my kids are grown. More kids run away than are kidnapped. Nevertheless, this blog post should be read by all those caring for a teenager.
Many of the foster children David and I cared for had run away before coming to live with us. We were a temporary home while the courts decided the child’s fate. Living peacefully with us was the best strategy for convincing a judge or probation officier to decide where to send you when it came time to leave our care. Follow our rules and you might return home or go to a group home. Break our rules, run away and you might end up in a locked facility.
Not all teens living with us used living with us to their advantage. For some of our kids, for one reason or another, running had become an ingrained habit. Some of those eventually fell prey to using sex as a survival tool, and I am not just talking about the girls.
These facts might interest you. I found them on the National Runaway Safeline.
Reasons for running away
- 47% of runaway / homeless youth indicated that conflict between them and their parent or guardian was a major problem.
- 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.
- 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.
- Childhood abuse increases youths’ risk for later victimization on the street. Physical abuse is associated with elevated risk of assaults for runaway and homeless youth, while sexual abuse is associated with higher risk of rape for runaway and homeless youth.
Please note, these were compiled mostly from statistics about youth using runaway shelters and crisis lines. I would classify those as troubled kids. Here is my short list of why kids ran away from us.
- Running to a love partner
- Running to be with friends
- Running to go to a forbidden event
- Running to party
- Running to get high
- Running to avoid responsibility
- Running to avoid shame
- Running to prove one’s self which often went with thumbing your nose with authority
- Running to avoid conflict within home – parents or siblings
- Running to because of secrets
- Running as a way to control anger or sadness
PARENT TIPS ABOUT KIDS WHO RUNAWAY
Tip one: If a kid is picking a fight or running out of the house, cursing you so the neighbors will hear – a prime Gotcha War Tactic; yell to her departing back “Come home when you have calmed down.” Makes you the good guy in your neighbors eyes, but mostly gives the kid a face-saving way to come home.
Tip two: For curfew violations, wait the night out. Greet your child with the words, “I am relieved you are safe Are you hungry, tired, want a shower and change of clothes?” Whichever the child opts for say “Fine, we will talk later about how to keep this from happening again. I need my sleep.” Try for an attitude of resigned patience and gentle humor.
Tip three: If you cannot follow tip two, just say through your gritted teeth: “Although I am happy you are back and safe, I am too grumpy from loss of sleep to talk. I suggest you wait in your room until I no longer feel like snapping at you. I love you but for now leave me alone.”
The above is the best way to handle a first run. For more advice my eBook. The eBook ‘When Good Kids Run Away‘ is free for five days this week from Wednesday 15th to Sunday 19th May. Can’t wait? It is available right now for less than a latte.
Parenting is hard work and contending with a good child who runs or engages in other difficult behaviors can break your heart. Hopefully, the above tips and resources will help you and your child survive the hard times. Practicing any of my Daily Easy Exercises alone or with your family strengthens your ability to do not just thrive, but build good memories. Start by learning my With Beauty Easy Emotional Fitness Exercise.
For all you do, thank you.
The first: Although built upon evidenced based practices, there is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.
The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments. Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.