There are numerous consequences to running away from home. It just doesn’t affect your safety, it affects school, too. If a youth ran away from home once, it decreases his/her probability to graduate by 10 percent. If a runaway attempt occurs multiple times, the chances of that student not graduating increases to 18 percent.
The conflict between the child and their parent was a major problem to 47 percent of the runaways surveyed. Out of the youth who ran away, 50 percent of youth in shelters and on the streets indicated their parents told them “to leave” or knew the youth was leaving “but did not care”.
To stay or to go
When I was a teenager, I attempted to run away twice. I hated leaving the some-what comfort of my childhood home. And I did not want to wander off in the dark.
The second time I ran away was just after dinner one dark winter night. What transpired that evening before I ran away has been ingrained in my memory. What I can remember is the kitchen table was picked up and shoved across the dining room. A glass was thrown down at the kitchen floor where it shattered into tiny pieces. Once I got outside in the cold night air, hot tears ran down my cheeks.
I did not have a plan so I just walked. Our neighborhood has a reputation of being one of the last neighborhoods on the totem pole for safety. This reputation goes back nearly 70 years.
My feet took me to the other side of the subdivision where my Granny lived. I noticed she was still awake by the light outlining her pulled shades on every window. As I walked up her horseshoe driveway, her security light blasted piercing light through the darkness into my eye.
Once I regained my eyesight, I made it to the picnic table which was a few yards from her back door. I sat down to rest my feet and make a plan in case this one did not work out. I kept praying that Granny would open the door and welcome me into her house with open arms. But it never happened. I was too scared to knock on the door involving anyone else in my problems.
By the time I was ready to leave, I had a plan. I was headed toward the closest gas station I could find. I was in hopes that someone would be nice enough to take me in.
Walking with a purpose I pulled my coat around me as I walked down Granny’s driveway. I took a right at the sidewalk. Not too soon after my feet hit the concrete, a familiar car pulled up and out jumped my Dad. We ran toward each other and embraced.
Running away is not the best option for anyone in an emotional state like I was or even a youth with a well thought out plan. I know what you are saying, “but my mom’s boyfriend beats me until I go unconscious”. Or, “there is an older cousin who is sexually molesting me”. No one can sit here and tell you your story doesn’t matter. Overall, a runaway’s decision is based on the situation at home.
With my situation, the crockpot of emotions was about to boil over and blow the lid off. I felt so backed in a corner that I felt as if I had no other option but to run away. Each situation is unique and needs to be handled separately.
The other options
Back then, there were places and people I could connect with who would help me make the right decisions. However, I chose not to go in that direction. In the end, was one of the lucky ones and lived out my runaway attempt.
You have other options instead of running away, as well. You have websites to go to, numbers to call and text. You do not have to live your nightmare alone. And you especially do not have to risk your life and run away.
Runaway contact information
1. National Runaway Hotline: 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline
2. National Safe Place: 1-888-290-7233
3. Need Help Now!: TXT 4 HELP
TXT 4 HELP is a nationwide service offered by National Safe Place to help teens connect to the closest location that offers immediate help and safety.
If you are in trouble or need help, text “SAFE” and your current location (address/city/state) to 69-866. You’ll get a text back with the address of the nearest Safe Place site and contact number for the local youth shelter. Within that same message you’ll receive a prompt that says, “Reply with 2CHAT for more help.” Once you reply, you’ll be connected with a professional for more help.
4. MINOR SEX TRAFFICKING: Need Help or Want to Report a Tip?:
1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733)
If you need to talk to someone but cannot find the right person, email me. Your email will be held in strict confidence and together we will find the best organization to help you. firstname.lastname@example.org