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Running Away


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Kelly E. Miller
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National Runaway Switchboard
This site provides information and support for runaway and homeless kids and teens. The 24-hour hour hotline is (800) 621-4000.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
This organization monitors the incidence of online child pornography. Call them at: (800) 843-5678

Running away is serious business. Very serious. Because even if your friend thinks she is ready to live life on her own, and no matter how sophisticated she seems, she isn't ready - emotionally or financially. Many teens who decide to run away envision a life that's exciting, glamorous, and mature, only to discover that's not the kind of life they get. Life for runaway teens is hard, and they often end up homeless, panhandling, stealing, or selling drugs or sex in an effort to make money. Every year in the United States, more than 5,000 runaway teens die, either from assault, illness, or suicide.

Not too exciting or glamorous, any way you look at it.

If your friend has been talking seriously about running away, chances are very good that she's unhappy and running away from something. Teens tend to run away for a lot of reasons: abuse (whether it's physical, emotional, or sexual), family problems, or problems with school or their friends. Some run away because of alcohol or drug abuse - their own or a parent's.

Talk with your friend about what's bothering her and put your heads together to find better - and more constructive - solutions. At the same time, speak with an adult you trust as soon as possible, and tell him or her that your friend is talking seriously about running away. If you don't feel comfortable telling your parents, there are other adults in your life who may be able to help you out: another relative, a teacher, a coach, a school counselor, your family doctor, or a religious leader.

Once you've enlisted the help of an adult, he or she can help your friend understand that she has many options - and that running away isn't a good one. If after talking to people, your friend is still serious about taking to the road, make sure that she has the number of the National Runaway Switchboard, at (800) 621-4000. This number is for runaway teens in need and is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It provides crisis intervention, information, and local referrals. The service will even help runaway teens contact people from back home by providing a message service and setting up conference phone calls.

A final note: if your friend does run away, or if you haven't seen her in a few days and you think she's run away, it's time for you to take action. This doesn't necessarily mean a high-speed chase or a dramatic call to the police. It means going as soon as possible to a trusted adult and explaining that you believe your friend ran away. Don't be shy about sharing any information about where she might be going or what her plans may have included; and don't wait, in hopes that she might come back after a few days. Your friend's life could depend on it.

Updated and reviewed by: Kim Rutherford, MD
Date reviewed: September 2001
Originally reviewed by:
Jennifer Shroff Pendley, PhD

Source: KidsHealth is a project of The Nemours Foundation which is dedicated to improving the health and spirit of children. Today, as part of its continuing mission, the Foundation supports the operation of a number of renowned children's health facilities throughout the nation, including the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, and the Nemours Children's Clinics throughout Florida.  Visit The Nemours Foundation to find out more about them and its health facilities for children 

Running Away and Feelings

Kelly Elizabeth Miller (JHD) - February 1978 - Age 10

Sometimes when I get upset I feel like running away.
I feel like nobody likes me. I feel like that pretty much.
Most people do not know how to tell others about their feelings
and when they can't talk about them, they start worrying about them
and it makes them nervous and all upset.

Some people think that running
away will help them, but it doesn't help at all
because they'll start worrying about how much money they have
and stuff like that and will they make it out there.
Some people are smart, they talk about their feelings and
work their problems out.

Most of the time it is kids that have these things happen to them.
Sometimes, something might happen in school or at
home and they think that running away will help.
So if you think that you have a feeling that you want to talk about,
go won't hurt a bit.

Above was published in the Clearwater Sun.    Mothers Note: Kelly DID run away at age 13 for five miserable days!

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