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Have you ever wanted to run away? That’s a big step in life. You may need some time to think about whether you want to “run” or not. There are many reasons why young people would want to run away from home–some of them good, and some of them not so good. Remember to think of the bad things that can happen. Probably the most important thing for young people to understand is that running away is a lot harder, and a lot less glamorous, than you may think. There are cold, sleepless nights; there are danger and hunger; there is a general sense of being lost and not knowing where you need to go. That being said, there may be legitimate reasons for wanting to run away. Read this article to help you weigh the consequences, and get a head start if you end up deciding that’s the right call for you. Run away if that’s what makes you happy, don’t let the internet decide what you should do. If you don’t feel like it’s your home, run away, do what you need to do, to feel happiness.
- Weighing the Pros and Cons
Stop and think about your possible actions. Why do you want to run away? Is there a really good reason to run away, or are you just bored or tired with your situation? There’s a difference between running away for a good reason (you’re in physical danger) and running away for a bad reason (you just got in a small fight with your parents). Don’t make a hasty decision in the heat of anger; you might regret it later.
- Think about all the people you might be affecting by running away
Humans are social. We bond together out of need and necessity, but also because we gain satisfaction from being close to one another. Try to think about the people who will be seriously affected by your decision. You owe it to them. You may not know it, but they think about you all the time.
1. Think about your parents. Though it may not always seem like it, your parents love you deeply. They see themselves in you, and they want a better future for you than they want for themselves. Fights and disagreements happen with parents; their love for you never changes.
2. Think about the rest of your family. Your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers—all of them have a relationship that’s deeper than just a friendship. It’s very possible that your family will feel hurt and responsible for you running away, even if they had nothing to do with it.
3. Think about your friends. Your friends are the lifeblood of your social circle. They laugh with you, they make you feel better when you’re down, they sometimes even think of you like a brother or sister. Running away probably means leaving them behind.
4. Think of other mentor figures. Maybe it’s a teacher; maybe it’s a friend of your mother’s. Many of us have mentors who look after us. They want to see us succeed and be safe. Your decision will undoubtedly have an effect on them.
- Understand that in many cases, running away from home is illegal.
Although most states won’t punish minors (someone under the age of 18) for running away from home, several states consider it illegal. In Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming, running away from home is a status offense, meaning that it’s against the law if you are under 18.
—–However, if your parents or guardians have tried to hurt you, you should get away and this is perfectly legal – but you have to do it in the right way. Tell a teacher or other trusted adult or call the police. Make sure you have a place to stay for a night or two before you do this, so you don’t have to go anywhere weird.
——You may worry that foster care will be worse than being with your parents, even if they hurt you, but it is better to risk it. You may even be able to stay with another family member or friend if you work this out in advance.
—–Even if you do run away in a state that doesn’t have laws against it, you could still find yourself in court. Over 30 states consider children who chronically run away from their homes “Child in Need of Supervision” or CHINS, a process which is designed to help children lead better lives. Still, minors who are in the CHINS process may face fines, suspended privileges, and mandatory drug screenings.
- Talk to someone about your plans to run away.
Consider calling 1-800-786-2929 (1-800-RUN-AWAY) or going to http://www.1800runaway.org to talk about your situation and all the options you have.
- Address the motivation for wanting to run away, if possible.
There are many reasons why a child would want to run away. Addressing the reason why could help you solve the problem before it gets so bad that you feel forced to run away. Here are some statistics:
—-47% of runaway youth described having a significant problem with one or both of their parents. Is there another adult who might give you advice about how to work the problem out with your parents? If not, consider calling Child Protective Services.
—–More than 50% of runaway youth in shelters said that their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving but didn’t care. If your parents ask you to leave or tell you they don’t care about you leaving, call or visit Child Protective Services. It’s not betraying your parents to want to find someone who cares about you. You deserve that.
—–80% of runaway and homeless girls reported physical and sexual abuse. If you are the victim of physical or sexual abuse, find an adult who you can confide in (it may be your parents, it may not be) and visit the police to file a report.
- Write a list of all the pros and cons of running away.
Often, putting your thoughts down on paper has a soothing effect, making things more clear in the process. Here are some possible pros and cons of running away.
——The pros:Possible freedom from neglect, abuse (verbal, physical, or sexual), and/or harassment.
—–Opportunities to travel, see new places, and meet new people.
—–Increased freedom and the possibility of maturity and personal growth, no matter how hard it gets.
—–Development of self-reliance, a sense of being able to do things by, and entirely for, yourself.
——The cons:Increased likelihood of spending nights outdoors, on the streets, under bridges or overhangs, or even on top of roofs.
—–Increased likelihood of depression, isolation, and powerlessness (32% of runaway youth have attempted suicide at some point in their lives.)
—–Increased likelihood of violence, drugs, disease, and prostitution on the streets.
——Feeling like you have no one to talk to, like no one cares, or like the things you do don’t make a difference.
- Give your emotions one week to cool off before making any big decisions.
Often, we let our emotions make decisions for us when we think we’re being rational. This can be a good thing, but sometimes it’s bad, because we trick ourselves into thinking that we’re being rational. To let your emotions cool off and really give yourself time to think about your possible life-changing decision, wait a week before doing anything. Reach out to people you can trust and perhaps talk it over with them. After a week, your rational brain will probably have had time to make a decision. This is different for each case, and so you should weigh the consequences for running away if your parents were to find you. Some parents get mad at you, instead of trying to help you.