Why they do it and how you can help them.
No one wants to think that a kid can up sticks and decide to run away but it does happen unfortunately.
When you were little, did you ever run away? Maybe you packed up your schoolbag and made it down the driveway or around the corner to your friend's back garden. But after a little while, you forgot why you were running away and it was getting dark out, so you went home.
We hope that was the last time you thought about running away because there's a big difference between thinking about running away (or walking a few hundred metres down the street) and actually running away.
Children often run away on the spur of the moment and without much prior thought which puts them at great risk of coming to harm or catapulted into dangerous situations. With little money and virtually nothing to support themselves kids may turn to theft or robbery to survive out on their own. Worse still they may be forced to live on the streets and this is where they will meet people who may influence them to drink or to take drugs. It doesn’t bear thinking about yet it is happening frequently with some young people who feel there only way out is to run away from it all.
These are problems faced by lots of kids and teens - and there are ways to deal with all of these problems besides running away. Kids who think about running away might not know how to solve tough problems or don't have adults to help them. Sometimes a really big problem can make it seem like running away is the only choice.
Why do they do it?
- Family problems
- Family bereavement
- New arrival to the home
- New step parent
- Financial troubles
- Rebellion against a parent and defiance
- Sadly, sometimes it's abuse
When a child thinks about running away, they probably imagine that there will be no more rules, no parent to tell them what to do, no more fights. Sounds great and exciting, right? Unfortunately, the problems kids hope to escape by running away are replaced by other - sometimes even bigger problems of life on the streets.
How can you help?
If you are the parent of the child who has run away obviously, you will be frantic to find your kid straight away. Once you have hopefully located your child you will have many questions or questions for yourself even.
Let your child rest firstly and give them time to sleep and eat before you barrage the child with questions. Food and rest will give your kid time to gather themselves and work up the courage to tell you what is bothering them.
It could be many different things or one single thing, if you think your child is running away in response to a new step parent or new brother or sister you will have to have an open discussion with your youngster and come to a solution. It may not be easy but your child will need to trust you and working together is vital. Other factors could be your child is being bullied or struggling to cope with bereavement and found no way out but to take themselves away. Consider counselling for your child or contact some support groups depending on the issue for your child’s running away.
Reminding your son or daughter of how much you love them, need them and would not want to be without them will reiterate to your kid that you adore them. Ask your kid about their feelings and be the parent your kid needs, offer solutions and be open to change if the problem lies at home. If it is school related you will need to speak to them directly or if your child was abused or groomed you will need to go to the gardai. You have a responsibility to your child to figure out why they are running away and solve the problem so it doesn’t happen again.
If your child is resistant, troubled or angry there are people who can work with your kid to help them with their issues. The dangers that lurk outside the safety of home are huge and risky situations should be avoided so keeping your child at home is the task you must face and help guide your kid to safety at home.