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TRUTHS ABOUT RUNAWAY TEENS
- Teens who run away are not bad
- They made the bad decision to run. We need to teach them ways of
facing and solving problems, even when they believe we are their
Most teens know of a teen who has run away
- This can lead to romantic ideas of life on the streets considering
most teens glamourize the experience.
Parents cannot lock teenagers in
- Teens can choose to walk out the door against your wishes.
Parents of teens who run away are not bad parents
- Parents are also under a lot of pressure.
HOW TO PREVENT TEEN RUNAWAYS
- Regularly spend
quality time with each of your teens. Listen to them attentively
in a non-judgmental way. Praise appropriate behaviour.
- Take their concerns seriously. Do not dismiss their worries and
- Pay attention when they ask you for help. Make your teen your priority.
Confront trouble signs directly, firmly and calmly. Discuss your
concerns and the consequences of continued unacceptable behaviour.
- Talk with others. Your teen’s friends, their parents or their
teachers may have helpful suggestions.
- Speak with professional counsellors about your situation.
SIGNS OF RUNAWAY TEENS
- Changes in behaviour
- Rebellious behaviour
- Disclosure of intention to run
- Accumulation of money and possessions
- Problems at home
WHAT TO DO WITH TEEN RUNAWAYS
There is no
law requiring a waiting period before reporting a missing child
to the police or before entering the data into the CPIC (Canadian
Police Information Centre). The first 48 hours following the runaway
episode are the most important in locating the teen.
While many runaway teens return home within this period, it is critical
to take every action available to help locate and safeguard your
child. These steps should be taken immediately.
- Remain calm. Ask yourself why and where your child may have run.
Check his/her room, desk and /or clothes for clues. Check local
spots your child may frequent, as well as area hospitals and treatment
centres if you suspect your child of drug use. Call your child’s
employer or coworkers, if any.
- Contact your child’s friends and their parents, school, neighbours,
relatives and others who may know where your child is. Ask them
to call if they hear anything. If your child has a computer, check
it for leads such as online contacts and details of a planned meeting.
- Call the police. Have an officer take the report at your home. Give
him/her a recent photo of your child and a description of his/her
clothes, including jacket, shoes and knapsack colours. Record the
officer’s name, badge number, telephone, fax and report numbers.
Ask who will follow up the initial investigation.
- Ensure police enter your child’s name and description at the
Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) and National Crime Information
Centre (NCIC). This will not give your child a police record, but
it may help find him/her.
- Report your missing child to Child Find Ontario (CFO) at 1-800-387-7962.
Have the police report information (as mentioned above) handy.
- Child Find Ontario will help produce posters or fliers if it becomes
necessary. Place them in store windows and hand them out at truck
stops, youth-oriented businesses, hospitals, treatment centres and
law enforcement agencies. Request permission first. Keep track of
all posters and remove them once your child has returned.
- Keep a notebook by the phone. Record all information about the investigation,
including all conversations and people you’ve spoken with.
Research also shows that very few leave their immediate community;
they will usually stay with friends. Most runaways come home of
their own accord.
WHAT TO DO WHEN
YOUR TEENAGER RETURNS
- Be happy. Many teens fear the initial meeting with their parents.
Remain calm. Express relief and tell your child you love him/her
and that together you will solve any problems.
- Make follow-up phone calls. Let all your contacts, including the
police, know your child has returned home. Police may need to speak
or meet with your child.
- Allow time to settle in. Your child may need a shower, a meal, clean
clothes, or sleep.
- Get medical attention. Visit your family doctor to address any medical
- Talk with your teen. Discuss how you can work together to prevent
him/her from leaving again. Acknowledge some problems take time
and effort to solve. Be sure you resolve the problems safely and
- Look for assistance. People and organizations in your community
can help counsel your family. Child Find Ontario can refer you to
an appropriate agency. Asking for help is a sign of strength and
shows you are taking the issue seriously.