Runaways are Getting Younger. Why Do Children Run Away From Home?

The thoughts of very young runaways living on the streets is very worrying. There are many dangers. Street life is not safe, yet there are 10-12 year olds out there living by their wits. What do you think of this?

In both the United Kingdom and the United States of America, children are running away from home at a younger age.  The Children’s Society in the UK are supporting children as young as 11 years of age and in America the National Runaway Switchboard says that there are 1-3 million children who are runaways or homeless and living on the streets.  They say that children as young as 10 run away. 


What concerns me is that not all children run to safety.  They don’t go to Social Workers about problems and I know from having talked to some adults who were former runaways that this is because they worry about being made to return to the bad situation they left, they think they will not be believed, and they are afraid that they will get into worse trouble with their parents. 

What would make a young child run away?  I think the obvious one that comes to mind is physical, mental or sexual abuse at home.  Not all children turn to agencies such as Childline.  Some children mistrust the authorities, and avoid contacting help agencies.  In cases of sexual abuse the abuser may have made specific threats to make sure the child does not contact the Police or Social Services.

Other reasons include having to watch domestic violence in the home.  Even where the child is not directly experiencing abuse itself, witnessing it can lead to anxiety, frustration, and worse still they could be traumatised.  This group of runaways will rarely seek help as they also fear the consequences.

Alcoholic or drug addicted parents can be a big issue.  Neglect, anxiety caused by drunken behaviour such as arguing, falling down, and parents losing bladder and bowel control can all put pressure on children.  also there is the issue of drunk friends of their parents becoming overly flirtatious and suggestive, causing anxiety and fear of sexual abuse.

Failing at school, wanting to drop out, or being bullied at school and seeing no way out of the situation is of growing concern especially in inner city areas where some schools are having pupil control issues.  Not wanting to disappoint parents by bad grades is an issue, especially if the parents are perfectionists and have been voicing high hopes of their child’s achievements.  Pressure also from domineering teachers who think that the child could do better when they genuinely can’t can lead to dropping out.  The children may even be failing to achieve due to Attention Deficit Disorder which has not been diagnosed, or may be dyslexic for instance.

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  1. It’s a sad, sad situation. Home should be a safe haven; somewhere to fun to, not a place to run from. And the children would rather sleep on the street than go home says a lot.

  2. An alarming phenomenon! It is clear that going through an identity crisis. They do not like how there are no looks, and anticipates no future for them. I am rebellious, exuberant and full of enthusiasm: they can change the order of things, and have a life to do that. Unfortunately many do not realize what dangers are exposed to street life! Good article!

  3. It’s sad. One of the reason parents are not letting to live kids own life mean to say trying to set their goals instead of letting them choose their own…….

  4. It is very sad that they run away so very young

  5. Informative share. Thank you.

  6. very interesting

  7. very well presented … thanx for the information …:))))

  8. 1-3 million? 1-3 million? Oh! Rosetta! I’ve gotta’ take a minute. I just can’t read.

  9. Of course I had to read. Folks think they can live without God and manage all. It is impossible. All must submit and get the fathers help.

  10. many runaway children because their parents doesn’t take good care of them,they don’t find love to their own homes! nice article

  11. Well written. We all were children, and I also ran away from home one time without any reason, hopefully I quickly realized that I should come back. The way of thinking of kids is extremely sharp, there is only bad or good for them, and sometimes really small thing can cause running. From other point of view, if there is any problems in the family, kids show this their own way… and parents should think about it, may be they are guilty? You listed here the most common causes, all parents should watch carefully not to let the children do this big mistake.

  12. very interesting for us

  13. These are great points Rosetta.

  14. sad situation.

  15. Good and informative article….

  16. There are many reasons for that.Parents and children do not good understanding…That makes them to do that.

  17. I know my sister ran away when she was 14 or so. It had been psychological damage I guess from our parents whom would argue quite a bit. I’m glad I never had to see it, but it really is just horrible that children feel they have nowhere that they can go for help.

  18. thanks for share.

  19. well I am ol so I grew up i the 1950’s and I ran away when i was 10…my sister and I had an argument over…nothing…so i left and wen to Hollow Park…big park in Ensley highlands Bham and it was in a… well it was in a hollow so when I got down to the swings it was Really dark :)
    but once i got to swinging it felt like i was flying!!! I probably didnt stay long but it felt like half the night!!!
    course the swings were these huge steel things that went soooo high man kids today are jipped…they dont have good playground anymore
    anyway I went back home and straight to my parents room how dumb was that they didnt even know i was gone…oh well long time ago…just made me think of it
    what I meant to say is I wish it were simpler now like it was then…kids now get sucked up in the street life soooo quick/even if they did want to go home they wouldnt be able to cause of the peer pressure
    and i think there is more than one side to the story than bad parenting…

  20. I agree, which is why I mentioned peer pressure and other factors in the article.

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