Understanding And Preventing Teenage Runaways

In looking across the web for advice on troubled teens, I found this useful article.  It has good advice!    Only the opening paragraph and the topics are reproduced here, but there is a link at the bottom for the entire article.

One of the greatest fears that parents can experience comes when they discover that their child is missing or has run away. Parents will experience a range of emotions. The stress of the situation and the different ways in which parents, family, friends and police respond can reach crisis proportions and create further crisis within a family.

The Difference Between a Runaway Child and a Missing Child

Motivations of a Runaway

Warning Signs of a Potential Runaway.

Communication That Helps Prevent Runaways

Steps You Can Take That Will Help Reduce the Risk of a Runaway

Note: this is a long and well written article that may be able to help you understand and help your troubled teen.   I am in no way recommending this site other than for you to read the information in this article.  Although I find no fault with the underlying site, I have no way of determining its credibility.   You are missing the greater part of the above article  unless you Click Here .  

Oldtimer’s comment:  Click for All the Homeless Youth articles


5 responses to “Understanding And Preventing Teenage Runaways

  1. Despite the fact that right now running away is not the problem we are having, I agree it is a good article. As you were searching, did you come across any other sites that may be of interest? We’re looking for treatment for a troubled teen, we’ve come across some good sites so far like http://www.eprogramsearch.com/ but many of the others we’ve seen seem to be biased towards different programs. Thanks

  2. To Patricia

    I’m not thrilled with wilderness programs for troubled teens, which is one of the offerings I found on the two sites you linked to (which are the same sites – seems like you may be doing a little stealth advertizing). It is too tramatic for a teen that is already troubled.
    I have a son whose best friend was sent to a wilderness site by his parents. It has been some 20 years now and he has never forgiven them. He is a great guy now, but it wasn’t due to the wilderness program. The trouble was not him, but his stepfather. The kid survived the experience but the family relationships did not. Too high a price to pay.
    I would not send a child of mine to any such program, and I’m not certain I would send him or her to any type of camp unless it came highly recommended by a friend who had been there as a youth or from a family that had good results and their teen agreed. Personal testamonials from locals are best.
    On the other hand, when my son became a troubled teen we went into an emergency mode of love. Nothing but love. A hug when he left and a hug when he came back and a “I love you son” for both greeting and good bye and whenver he spoke out. No retorts, no other response than a hug and a “I/we love you”. It only took 3 days and we never had a troubled teen again. No camp needed.

  3. I am a retired high school teacher w/ 1 child at home & limited energy. My husband’s distant cousin is a troubled child who was fine while not voluntarily to live with her real mother when the birth mom was released from a 12yrs. in prison for drugs, she became, no surprise, a real problem. Moving back with grandma didn’t solve the problem, so grandma sent her back to a bad situation. She ran away. She is currently in juvenile detention. She will be 16 in one month. My husband & I are considering offering our home to her. We live in another state. I need some guidelines as to what I may ask of her. Is regular drug testing too humiliating? I would like to know what I’m dealing with. Also, raising a child is a matter of unconditional love, but this situation seems a little different. I could love her, grieve with her, and still, if she can’t or won’t heal, what would be the bottom line? I seem to need the answer to these questions before I do this. Any advice?

  4. The paragraph should say that the girl was born in prison, went to live with her grandmother where she was fine, and then when mom was released, the trouble started. Sorry I didn’t proofread closer.

  5. Michelle, I’m not qualified to offer real advice here. Love, love love seemed to work for me, but it was my own child and only one case.

    Have you read the following article https://oldtimer.wordpress.com/2007/05/29/im-a-16-year-old-run-away/

    Two things: the link to the National Runaway Switchboard can be used to talk to someone that has talked to and helped hundreds of runaways. I’m sure they will love to talk to you. Also the girl should have access to them if she threatens to run away. If you call them and if you get a non-responsive answer, call them back at a different time and ask for someone else if you happen to get the same person.

    The second thing is very near the bottom of the article. Love, love love. It worked for me with my son who had become intolerable in retorts, disrespect and was on the edge of running away, seeming to want to be kicked out, feeding off a friend who had been sent to a wilderness camp and was livid over it. We heard many times “I hate you” and “you don’t really love me” and “I’ll do (this or that) if I want to” “you can’t stop me”, “you drink coffee – that is a drug”, etc

    It turned out to be a need for deep displayed love. It was clear we were about to lose him. My wife and I decided to greet him at the door with a hug and “glad to see you, we love you son” and while he was in the house to greet any disrespect or retorts with “we love you son” (no comebacks from us allowed no matter what!) and see him off with “take care out there, we love you son” (no “don’t do ….”, no imposed limitations or rules allowed to be stated, no “where you going”, no “when will you be back” etc.) always accompanied by a goodby hug. We followed it to the letter and it was a good experience all the way through. We thought he would try to push away from the hugs, but he did not. We thought he would escalate the taunts, he did not. We thought he might not respond for a long time, but he surprised us with almost immediate return of affection.

    By the 3d day, it was a different world. Total respect, total returned love, and not one problem later through the years. He is almost 40 now. We actually, many years later, found a hidden poem wirtten by him during that time that showed he understood what he had put us through.

    There is a lot of “testing” going on when a child who is influenced by others is predisposed to receiving bad responses to questions, comebacks, discipline. Much of that testing is done to elicit the kinds of responses that will justify running away or some other bad behavior. Many homeless children are “throwaways” in which a parent, often a step parent kicks them out, usually for talking back escalating into a war of words. Much of that is the child having reached a point where they want to run away, but want to justify it with being tossed out, waiting for a “get out” “don’t come back” etc. They are just hungry for love but expecting the opposite (and usually getting it).

    I would suggest that you find an advocate for runaways such as the NPR. Maybe talk to a local counselor. I don’t think tough love or school house discipline works with troubled children. I would not turn to any wilderness or tough love site. Children need love and they need space to sort things out, but they need mostly love.

    As far as drug testing, I would not propose it myself, but would ask the parole office/ juvenile release office / court if they will require it as part of their release requirements. They should do that anyway.

    I know you are out-of-her state, but you are looking at a huge financial and emotional investment. You might want to spend some time with her before she is released, some quiet time, show love and concern, see if you can make a pact whereby she understands she will need to live somewhere, and with you would be a good choice, but there needs to be some up-front conditions to make it easy on her and on you, explain that you will love her like your own child, and see if you can negotiate some reasonable guidelines for your home.

    Within that context, if the conditions for release don’t require it, you might ask her if she would submit to drug testing if it comes to that, considering some past history you know about.

    At 16, she has seen it all and probably done it all, and she has been interacting with other troubled teens and with some pretty bad characters, and with a mother and other relatives that have not been successful working with her.

    I would not ask any questions about the past other than perhaps ask if there is anything you personally need to do that would be different than how she was treated in the past. She might open up, but don’t persist along that line if she resists. The question may linger on her and she may come up with an answer later or next time you visit.

    You are taking on a very tough assignment and will likely go through some very tough times, and may acquire some guilt trips later if it doesn’t work out.

    If that conference/preferable series of conferences doesn’t work out, it likely won’t work out at home either. It is your decision to make, but you need to make it with the help of a professional, not me.

    On the other hand, I know of cases that did work out and I’ve met the children and there just doesn’t seem to be any sign of past problems as they are polite, kind and generous. It seems as if they have responded to love more than anything and all the bad stuff is completely gone as they enjoy the new environment of “home’.


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