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What to do when your teenager is a runaway

There are 1.6 to 2.8  kids that runaway each year according to 1-800-Runaway.  Most children are between the ages of 12-17.  That is an astounding number, but to make it more palpable, most do return home, or are found and taken to a foster home. Leaving a small number who never return.   Regardless, having your child gone for a few hours is very scary and can leave you wondering what to do.

With odds high, that your child may runaway it is best to be prepared and know what to do before it happens.

Usually, a child will runaway when they are angry in hopes to get their parents to notice that they are really, really mad, and for good measure, they are punishing the parents for not giving them what they want.

So when your child does run away, what should you do? 

  • First, start making phone calls.  This is a good reason for you to keep phone numbers of your child’s friends.  Start calling their friends to see if they have seen your child.  Be aware there is a unwritten code to not talk to grown-ups and you may not get any information, so you may want to verify what the child is saying, by speaking to their parents.  If the child says the parents are not home, then ask for the parents phone number.  If you don’t hear back then follow up.  That may be a clue that your child is at their house and the parent’s don’t know that your child is missing and thinks they are just spending the night.
  • Call the police.  Be prepared to give them a lot of information.  Check out my “file a missing report article for what they will be asking for.
  • Physically go to all your neighbors houses, especially if they have kids the same age as your child.  The kids may have heard something your child said or what another child said at your child’s school for example.   Ask your neighbors to call you, if they spot your child and give them your phone number.
  • Go to places where your child likes to go and do an impromptu search.  Most children will go someplace they have been before like a bowling alley or an arcade or roller rink and hang out.
  • If you suspect your child has taken money with them, then go to bus stations and talk to the employees there.  Call your local Taxi company and ask if they picked up anyway at your address.
  • The very next school day, go to your child’s school and tell the principal your child is missing.  Ask the principal if she would talk to your child’s friends.  Sometimes, being called into the principal’s office will make a child nervous enough to break their word and tell what they know.  Make sure the principal asks them if your child had any boyfriend or girlfriend.  Many times kids won’t tell the parent.  If so, then have the principal check to make sure they are in school. Sometimes, kids will run together.
  • After 24 hours, set up a Facebook page.  This is a great way to get neighbors and family and friends to communicate with each other and is a great resource for getting volunteers to help you look.
  • Contact the media and also contact me.  I will make sure that all my readers are helping you look for your child.
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