Perhaps your adolescent is a chronic runaway, leaving frequently for short trips to who knows where, but generally returning after, at most, a few days. Or maybe your adolescent recently ran away for the first time and has not yet returned after several days or even weeks. Regardless of whether this is regular behavior or new behavior, adolescents generally run away either to escape something such as family problems , or pursue something such as drugs, a forbidden relationship, or a sense of belonging in a group away from home. Whether your adolescent has been gone for a night or a week, running away is a serious issue that should be addressed immediately and unequivocally. In addition, high-risk behaviors and victimization can occur in many runaway scenarios. The following tips can help parents intervene effectively to interrupt new or chronic runaway behavior.
While we prefer the phrases actively concerned and making plans to remedy the situation as opposed to worry , what we mean is that running away is nothing to take lightly. If your teen runs away, especially more than once, it increases their risk of developing a host of long-term physical and psychological problems. It also increases the risk of exposure to dangerous behavior from runaway peers and predatory adults. But before we get into the facts and figures, we need to make two things clear. Besides, the word bad is almost never helpful when describing teens, parents, and their relationships.
When you were little, did you ever run away? Maybe you packed up your backpack and made it down the driveway or around the corner to your friend's backyard. 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 blocks down the street and actually running away. Running away is a serious problem.
Young people run away for a range of reasons — it may be that you have been arguing for some time, or it may be to do with problems that your teenager feels unable to talk to you about like bullying, sex and relationships, drugs, or a combination of problems. But in the majority of cases, when the teenager has actually run away both adult and teen wish they could turn the clock back and prevent it from happening. When there have been problems building up for sometime it is often difficult to step back. But sometimes you may need to take time out and think about what your teenager is telling you. Give them the space to tell you what is going on from their perspective.