Today, we release Still Running 3, our latest research report concerning young runaways. This new report (full text, summary) tells sobering tales and illustrates the often-overlooked problems young runaways face in England and the UK.
A child runs from home or care every five minutes. Our new report reveals that a quarter of child runaways have been the victim of a harmful or dangerous experience.
The report also shows that one in five child runaways have begged, stolen or done ‘other things’ to survive. Others are so desperate that they steal, turn to drugs or alcohol or are abused by adults who groom them. Too often they are alone and desperate for help.
One in six, or 18 percent, runaways said they had slept rough, or stayed with someone they had just met. One in nine, or 11 percent, was hurt or harmed on the last occasion they ran away.
In Still Running 3 (full text, summary), we address findings that many professionals – teachers, social workers, police and others – are not stepping in and supporting the vast majority of young runaways.
Around two-thirds of children who run away are not ‘visible’ to professionals. Seven in ten runaways were not reported missing to police the last time they ran away.
In addition, our research exposes, for the first time, that there is a very strong link between family relationships and running away.
We have shown that arguments and other family conflict play a massive part in a child’s decision to run. Poor quality family relationships and neglectful parenting are making children and young people feel helpless.
Everybody has a part to play in making runaways safe. Never has the need for a national safety net of help for young runaways been greater.
While the numbers and findings are staggering, there are things we all can do to improve these young people’s lives – that’s why we launched Make Runaways Safe.
There are things that you can do to help young runaways:
By Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society