Helping teen runaways find their footing or make their way back home is everyone’s responsibility. “The reality is, there are not always services available for kids who are calling,” says Maureen Blaha, executive director of the National Runaway Switchboard. “We try to be as creative as we can be to find solutions. But there isn’t always a simple answer.” (Irvine, 2008)
Tips for helping runaway teens
Most kids don’t like the term “runaway”; they consider it demeaning. So avoid using it when possible.
In trying to offer assistance, form your ideas as suggestions rather than must-do’s. Nobody likes being bossed around or told what to do, and the instant you start doing this, your guidance ceases being seen as helpful.
Keep in mind that many runaway youth come from broken homes and have trust issues. So it may take some work to get them to open up. Make it clear you won’t turn them over to parents or authorities or use what they say against them.
Resources for runaway children & teens
1-800-RUNAWAY — A national hotline for runaway youth that helps guide kids towards the best services or resources available in their communities.