There are approximately 3,000 young persons under the age of 21 reported as missing or as runaways each year in Ontario County. Kids run away from home for a variety of reasons, most of the time because they do not feel safe. Running away from home is rarely the result of one argument or one fight. As a parent/adult, you may be confronted with your own child running away, or you may have a young person staying in your home who has run away. Studies have shown that family problems resulting in a child running away, involve both parents and youth. The best way to work through those problems is to work together to solve them. The earlier parents and youth work together in trying to solve the problems, the better chance there is to prevent another runaway episode. If the problems are not able to be resolved, it is important to ask for help. (See Self-Esteem and Counseling.)
Runaways are at high risk for drug abuse, prostitution, crime and violence. If your child runs away, it is important for you to take action to locate him/her immediately. Check to see if s/he is at a relative's or friend's home. Speak with the parents of your child's friends to see if they know where your child is. If you cannot locate your child, immediately contact 911 and report your child missing. If you can locate him/her, attempt to listen to the reasons for leaving and ask for outside help to work through the problems.
A youth under 21 years of age who has lost family support, been thrown out of the home or who has no permanent home to go to, is considered a homeless youth. Often, youth in this situation have no one to depend on for emotional and financial support and must learn independent living skills to be successful on their own. Youth who are living from place to place with no permanent means of financial and emotional support, and no guardian to care for them, are considered homeless. There are programs to assist youth who are homeless find shelter, food, clothing and other necessary services. These programs will attempt to have youth and their parent/guardian work together on their problems. These programs can also assist youth in learning the necessary skills to live successfully on their own if the parents are unwilling or unable to care for them.