Children and Young People can run away for a range of reasons and it is surprisingly common. The triggers for running away could be to do with something they feel unable to talk to you about, such as bullying, sex and relationships, drugs, alcohol, pressures at school, or an argument with an adult.
Running away could put a young person in a vulnerable and dangerous situation, so if you think a young person may run away, you should take action. Safe@Last work with young people who feel like running away is their only option. They can offer young people support, guidance and a safe place to go. You can contact them using the following methods:
Telephone 0800 335 7233
Visit the website www.safeatlast.co.uk
If your child goes missing from home you should take steps to locate them:
- If they have a phone, call it.
- Try ringing family and friends to see if anyone knows where they are, they may make contact with a trusted friend or family member so make sure that friends and family can contact you.
- If you have tried the steps above and are still worried, call the police on 101 and report them missing.
If you get the police involved, please ensure you have a recent photo ready for them. Make sure you tell the police all the facts as you have them, the more information they have, the more they can do to try and locate them.
While your child is away from home:
- Do take support from family, friends and professionals.
- Do let your child or young person know they can come home.
- Do listen carefully if reasons are offered for not returning home, so that you can try to arrive at a solution.
- Don’t panic. A large majority of children and young people do return home un-harmed.
- Don't make rash promises as a condition of their return home e.g. later curfew times, you may change your mind when they return.
- Don't send them abusive or threatening text or voice-mail messages.
- Don't blame them, call them names or say unkind things.
When your child or young person does return home, emotions will be running high. This may not be the best time to talk about the recent event. Give yourself time to think. When you do have that initial conversation your child is most likely to be on the defensive, certain they are going to be reprimanded. It is important to keep the conversation about them, the here and now. Not what happened months ago. Try and work together to come up with a way forward.
TRY making a contract : agree and write down some basic things that you can both work towards fulfilling, such as coming in times, bed times , acceptable language and anything else important to you and your child.
DISCUSS whether there are things that can be changed and improved, such as allowing your child their own bedroom, agreeing to less babysitting, or finding ways they can earn more spending money.
DON’T be afraid to get other people involved. E.g. if the issues are related to school, make an appointment.
GATHER information. For example, if your child is involved with drugs or alcohol, find out more about the dangers and learn about them together.
FIND activities you could participate in together and have some ‘quality’ time such as going to see a film or kicking a ball around in the park.
BE PATIENT. It takes time, certain things will work and some things won’t. It’s important to keep trying and if things are not working go back to the beginning and try again.
As previously mentioned, if you are concerned about your son / daughter running away you can contact Safe@Last, alternatively you can contact the Safeguarding Office on (01709) 760222. Referrals can be made to Safe@Last who will provide support for your son / daughter.