It’s a parent’s worst nightmare—her child has run away. A series of questions and incomprehensible outcomes run through her head. She wonders what to do, where her child was last seen, and what was discussed before she left home that day. You may think this wouldn’t happen to you, but the truth is that kids do run away from home and even more contemplate running.
Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away in a year. If all of these young people lived in one city, it would be the fifth largest city in the United States. These numbers are unacceptable, particularly when you consider the fact that many of these young people will end up on the streets.
Runaway Prevention is Key
November is National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM). As a parent, it’s important for you to be aware of the runaway and homeless youth crisis and the issues that these young people face, as well as to learn about solutions and the role you can play in preventing and ending youth homelessness.
If all of the influential people in your child’s life work together, you and they can help prevent the situations that could compel your child to run away from home. A first step is assisting your child in discovering the delicate balance of life-saving skills:
- Awareness—what it means to run away and why running away will not solve his problems;
- Resources—how to build a safety net of trusted people and organizations to turn to for help;
- Communication—how to speak and listen effectively; and,
- Stress Management—how to reduce or manage stressors and solve problems.
You can also help your child’s friends, classmates and other youth who may have run away or are contemplating it. If you recognize they are going through a tough time, share with them that help is available through organizations like the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), the go-to resource for runaway, homeless, throwaway and at-risk youth and their families. Its free and confidential 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline and 1800RUNAWAY.org online services, provide support and access to resources 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Youth can also text the short code: 66008, to receive an automatic response featuring links to the hotline or live chat.
More than Meets the Eye
This year’s theme ‘More than Meets the Eye’ is designed to dispel stereotypes about runaway, homeless and at-risk youth by illustrating the essences of every young person. Different groups of under-served youth, such as LGBTQ, foster youth, homeless youth and abused youth, overlap and intersect quite a bit. They are so much more than the labels given to them. Let’s think about how we can better recognize and serve runaway and homeless youth as multifaceted people.
Get Involved in National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM)
You can participate in any of the following NRPM activities to show runaway and homeless youth that they are not invisible and they are not alone.
- Wear Green Day on Nov. 12: Green is the symbol of NRPM. Coordinate a ‘Wear Green’ Day, whether it is a t-shirt, tie or pair of socks, with your friends, coworkers or students. Take a photo and post it to social media with #NRPM2015.
- “Candlelight Vigil on Nov. 19: Host a candlelight vigil in a neighborhood, school, place of worship, or other venue to show solidarity with youth in crisis.
- ‘Give Thanks’ Thunderclap on Nov. 26: On Thanksgiving, ‘pay it forward’ by participating in an NRPM online Thunderclap, which is a tool that lets a message be heard when you and your friends say it together.
To learn more how you can get involved in NRPM, find more tips or get help, visit 1800RUNAWAY.org.
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