Teenagers Run Away: Why They Do It and How to Stop Them

Most teenagers are reckless and rebellious. And while it’s important to give your teen freedom and independence, there are limits when it comes to the teen running away. Teenagers will push boundaries and test boundaries in order to gain more freedom. Sometimes, teenagers run away from their homes.

Teens running away is often a cry for help or attention. There might be underlying problems that you might not be aware of. By understanding what drives your teen to run away, you can better help them cope with the problems they are facing.

Reasons Why Teenagers Run Away

There are many reasons why teenagers run away from their homes. Some of those reasons include:

  • Inability to cope with problems at home
  • Inability to cope with school-related problems
  • Abuse
  • Addiction and substance abuse issues
  • Seeking attention / looking for a new family
  • Domestic violence between parents, outside of school
  • Fleeing an unstable home life
  • Peer pressure
  • Economic difficulties

What to Do When Your Teenagers Run Away

why do teenagers run away from home
why teenagers run away

If you’re a parent, you know that one of the scariest things that can happen is when your teenager runs away. It’s hard enough raising them as it is – and when they’re out of your sight, it can feel like everything is spinning out of control.

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But don’t worry – there are things you can do to help find your teen and keep them safe. Once you realize that your teen has run away, there are a few steps that you should take when your teen runs away:

1. Remain calm and try not to panic.

This will only make things worse and hinder your ability to think straight.

2. Don’t wait to call the police.

The sooner you report your teen missing, the sooner the police can start their search.

3. Contact your friends, family, and anyone else who might have information about your teen.

It’s important to canvass the area and see if anyone has seen them or knows of their whereabouts.

4. Check social media sites and contact any friends they might be in touch with.

Teens are usually more active on social media sites, so it’s important to check them and see if they’ve contacted anyone.

5. Pay attention to their online activity.

If you have access to their email address or passwords, log in to make sure all communications are normal.

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If there is anything suspicious, do NOT reply – instead contact your local authorities immediately.

6. Provide the police with your teen’s information.

It’s important that you provide them with any relevant documentation, such as school records and medical records, which can help in their search process.

7. Keep track of the police investigation.

Make sure to follow up with the police and find out what progress they’re making.

8. Get help from a professional.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t know how to handle the situation, it’s important to seek professional help.

There are many organizations that specialize in helping families deal with runaway teens such as law enforcement or child protective services can be of assistance.

9. Be patient.

It’s hard to remain calm when your teen is missing, but it’s important that you try and don’t give up on them!

There is a good chance that they will come home once they’ve calmed down and realized the gravity of their decisions. Most teens who run away do so only once and generally have a good reason for doing so.

10. Be prepared for their return.

If your teen returns, make sure to establish some rules and boundaries moving forward so this doesn’t happen again in the future.

It can be difficult to find a balance between being understanding and strict, but it’s important that you try your best to remain positive – because most likely, your teen will return!

When it comes to dealing with a runaway teen, it’s important to remain calm and take the proper steps.

If your teen runs away from home, you should contact the police immediately and provide them with any documentation that can help in their search process. 

To stop a runaway situation from happening again, talk about their future and open a dialogue regarding what they’re going through.

In most cases, teens run away for something simple like wanting more freedom. With patience, communication, and love, you can help them work through their issues and hopefully prevent them from running away again in the future.

Is It Illegal for a Teenagers to Run Away?

teenagers run away
teenagers run away

It is not a crime to run away. Your teen cannot be arrested or charged with a crime for fleeing from their family.

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However, in some jurisdictions, running away is considered a status offense, which is something that is illegal because of the youth’s minor status. In these jurisdictions, a teenager who runs away could face punishment from child protective services.

What Are the Legal Consequences of Running Away?

If your teen has not been gone for more than 24 hours, they are considered a missing person. The police will be notified and will launch a search for your child. If they are found, they will likely be returned to you.

If your teen has been gone for more than 24 hours, they are considered a runaway. The police may still launch a search for them, but they are not as likely to be found and returned to you.

If your teen is a runaway, there are several legal consequences that could occur. Your child may be charged with a crime, such as trespassing or burglary if they enter a property without permission.

If they are caught engaging in illegal activities, such as drugs or alcohol, they may be arrested and charged. If they are caught driving without a license, they may be arrested and charged.

If your child is not found, they may end up in the custody of child protective services. This could mean that they are placed in a foster home or a group home until they can be reunited with their family.

What Can You Do to Prevent Your Teen from Running Away?

There are several things you can do to prevent your teen from running away. Talk to them about why they’re feeling this way and listen to what they have to say. Try to give them more freedom in a safe and controlled environment.

Establish rules and boundaries that they must follow. If your teen feels like they can’t talk to you about their problems, they may run away to try and find someone who will listen. 

Make sure you remain open and available to them during this time. Additionally, if your teen feels strongly about a situation or person in their life, they may want to run away from home so that the other person can’t keep them from seeing each other.

If your teen does have a case of strong infatuation, try to keep them safe and away from the individual until they are capable of making their own decisions.

What to Do When Your Teenagers Run Away – FAQ

What Do You Do When Your Teenager Refuses to Come Home?

If your teenager refuses to come home, you should first contact the police and provide them with any documentation that can help in their search process.
You should also talk to your teen about why they’re feeling this way and try to open a dialogue. If your teen still refuses to come home, you may need to seek the help of law enforcement or child protective services.

What Are the Consequences If My Teen Gets in Trouble While Running Away?

If your teen gets in trouble while running away, they may be arrested and charged with a crime. They could also end up in the custody of child protective services if they are caught by the police.

How Long Will It Take for My Teen to Get Back to Their Normal Routine?

It will take some time for your teen’s life to return to normal after running away. They may need time to recuperate from their experiences, or they might go back into a depression after realizing that their lives are still the same as they were before.

If your teen was placed in the custody of child protective services, it will take time for them to return home as well.

The Bottom Line

While you should give your teenager freedom and independence, there are limits when it comes to teenagers running away.

Teenagers will push boundaries and test boundaries in order to gain more freedom. Sometimes, it involves running away from their homes. 

If you’re trying to stop your teen from running away for good, you should motivate them by talking about their future and their goals.

If you’re able to open up a dialogue regarding what they’re going through, it might help them deal with those emotions instead of reacting in an unexpected manner.

In many cases, teens run away for something as simple as wanting more freedom or to escape from a difficult situation.

It’s important that you don’t punish your teen for running away, but instead try to understand the root of the problem.

With patience, communication, and love, you can help your teens work through their issues and hopefully prevent them from running away again in the future.

If you’re looking for more information on how to help your teen if they run away, or on how to prevent them from running away, you can always consult a professional.

There are many resources out there that will help your teen if they run away from home.

Teenagers who run away from home or have been kicked out of their homes have special needs. Don’t forget to call the following organizations as well: Runaway Switchboard (1-800-786-2929) or Youth Crisis Hotline (1-800-442-HOPE).

Both the National Runaway Safeline and the Family & Youth Services Bureau offer a variety of programs to help both runaways and their families. You can also contact your state or local department of social services.