Is running away the answer?

Millions of teenagers runaway from home every year in the U.S. What are they running away from? What are they running to?

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Millions of teenagers runaway from home every year in the U.S. What are they running away from? What are they running to?

Tsion Saunders, Rooster Reporter

In the United States of America, between 1.6 and 2.8 million teenagers and youth starting as young as 10 to 14 years old run away from their homes every year. The main reason for this under the radar problem is physical and sexual abuse at home. 80% of runaways or homeless girls have been physically or sexually abused, according to the Polly Klaas Foundation. 

Other underlying problems are conflict with parents, bad school life, unstable home life, and seemingly unfair punishments. Teens in the 21st century lead a hard life and live under the influence of friends or significant others, and running away may seem to be the solution. In some cases, teens need to get away from bad home life for their own safety. 

During an interview with a senior at Reagan High school, I got a first look into the life and mind of a runaway. One who ran away from home at 16 years old in the middle of the night, who is now 17 and still not at home. 

¨My family is dysfunctional and there are double standards in my home, boys and girls get treated differently,¨ said the senior.   

She did confirm that she was sexually abused but did not want to add any other further information. She also confirmed that she is safe now and received counseling from a local family program.

¨Being away from my family was the hardest part of running away from home,¨ said anonymous. 

Most teens return home within a week of running away from home. 77% of teens are gone less than a week and 7 percent are gone longer than a month. The individual interviewed, has been gone for over a year and turns 18 very soon.

In America and around the world, 18 is a glorified age. Teens think they can leave their parent’s home and be free of restrictions and free to do whatever they want. While part of that is true, there is a harsh reality to it. 

Teens will have to find jobs, pay car bills, find ways to eat, and maintain a sustainable lifestyle. While there are programs and ways to do that without parents. Parents want to aid their children in these steps.

There are two types of runaways according to an article done by Lisa Davis, an author for a National Family Resources non-profit organization: Episodic and Chronic.

Episodic running away is in the heat of the moment. This type is the result of an unforeseen event that makes a teen leave their home. It could be sexual or physical abuse, receiving a seemingly unfair punishment, or simply being told no. 

Chronic running away is a form of manipulation. Teens use running away as a threat to their parents to get what they want to draw attention to themselves. Teens who characterize under this term often have a place to go to like a relative or a friend’s house because they intend to return back home, just after they get what they want.  

The anonymous senior admitted to knowing where she was going but did not want to release further information on where she went. After being introduced to the two types of runaways she realized that she fitted the definition of an Episodic runaway. 

There are several reasons why teens around the country and world run away from home. It could be a serious legal problem within the home or a justified but unfair punishment that tips a teen off the edge. When 70% of teens are in more danger than they were in the home, leaving may not be the answer. 

  • 47% of runaways report conflict in the home with a parent or guardian.
  • 50% of youth were told to leave or their absence was not cared about. 
  • 32% of youth attempted suicide. 
  • 70% of youth are in danger upon leaving their home.

There are hundreds of programs and services to help a teen battle through their own problems, however, running away from home should be a last resort. Find the right program to help your teenager or family for the benefit of their future. Below are local programs to call if you or a loved one needs help.

  • Project Hope (336)-771-4732
  • Mental Health Association in Forsyth County (336)-768-3880
  • National Suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273- TALK or you can text the crisis line ( text HELLO to 741741)
  • Catholic Charities (336)-727-070