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Running away from home

run; away; running; home; leaving; runaway;


What is running away?

Have you ever been in trouble at home and thought to yourself,
"I'll run away… and then they'll be sorry!"

running away

I remember thinking that when I was little. One time I even got on a bus to go to my auntie in another town! Fortunately someone on the bus knew me and put me on the next bus back home. He also rang my parents who were waiting for me at the bus station. I never tried to run away again. Yes, they were sorry, and so was I…and scared… and lonely… and glad that my parents loved me and wanted to take care of me.

My story had a happy ending, but sometimes kids who run away from home have a very frightening and lonely time, until they find the right sort of help.

  • Some kids may stay at friends' houses.
  • Some kids may stay with someone else in the family for a while.
  • Some kids go home again and work things out with their parents.
  • Some kids get help from the Government or an organisation that helps street kids.
  • Some kids live on the streets.
  • Some kids end up being badly treated and badly hurt.
  • Some kids disappear and are never seen again.

Why kids run away from home

There are many reasons why kids run away from home, but they all have something to do with one or more of these:

  • Problems at home, eg. feeling unsafe, fighting between parents, fighting with siblings, feeling unwanted, divorce, parent's new partner, a new baby, money worries, too many rules, not enough rules.
    sleeping on a park bench
  • Problems at school, eg. bullying, teasing, work being too hard or too easy, problems with a teacher, homework, or having no friends.
  • Problems with friends, eg. teasing, spreading rumours, people telling your secrets, peer group pressure.
  • Problems with the law, eg. drinking, drug use, stealing, graffiti, vandalism, breaking-in, assault.
    keeping safe
  • Problems with boyfriends/girlfriends, eg. breaking up, not wanting to take no for an answer, having an argument, being dumped.

What to do if you feel like running away

If you really feel like running away, ask yourself some questions first.

  • What else can I do to improve things at home before I leave?
  • What would make me stay at home?
  • How will I survive?
  • Is running away safe?
  • Who can I count on to help me?
  • Am I being realistic?
  • Should I think about this some more?
  • What are my other options?
  • If I end up in trouble, who will I call?
  • When I return home what will happen?

(These are questions from the 'Runaway switchboard').
When you've asked the questions, think about who can help you sort out the problems.

Maybe you could:

  • telephoning for helptalk to one of your parents or carers 
  • talk to one of your trusted adults (at school, at church, in the wider family, family friends, or friends' parents)
  • call the Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (they can be called 24 hours a day, every day)
  • call the Youth service officer at your local council
  • if you feel unsafe, call the police on their local number (in South Australia, call 13 14 44).
  • Crisis care 131611.

There are many people around who can help you if you only ask for help.

Running away is not a good option in any circumstances.

Helping your friend

  • If your friend is talking about running away, try to get her to talk things over with one of the trusted adults either of you have.
  • If she won't do that, tell one of your trusted adults about your friend. This isn't dobbing, it is trying to keep your friend safe.

The realities of being a runaway

Maybe you think that it will be a lot of fun - no rules like at home, eating what you like when you like, no school, etc.

In reality, it isn't so cool…

  • having nowhere to live
  • being afraid
  • lonelybeing bullied or hurt by bigger kids or adults
  • having no money for food
  • sleeping rough and being unsafe
  • maybe having to steal or do something you don't want to do to get food
  • not having anywhere of your own
  • having nowhere to rest
  • having nowhere to put your stuff, and having to carry everything
  • having nowhere to wash yourself or your clothes
  • always being alert for danger, and never able to relax
  • having no friends who care about you.

Dr Kim says

Dr Kate"Most kids who run away go back home within two days. Those two days can be like a nightmare for the kids and their families.

Nothing is so awful that you can't get through it with some help. There are people who can help you whatever trouble you are in.

Have a look at the National Runaway Safeline website 

Running away may get you away from one problem for a while but it doesn't solve the problem.

  • Running away can give you a lot more problems and put
       you into danger.
  • Not every kid comes back in two days, and some never come back at all."

What kids say

"My sister ran away when she was 16. My mum and dad were really upset. After a week she told us where she was, and she came back again a year later when she had fallen out with her boyfriend".  Anon

"My friend's brother ran away and they still don't know where he is. The Police have looked for him. They hope that he will ring the police or a Helpline somewhere so that they will get a message saying he's okay".  James

"My friend tried to run away lots of times because she doesn't like living with mum and her boyfriend. She wants to live with her dad but his new wife doesn't want her and her mum won't let her. She's going to move in with her auntie in 2 years when she's 16".  Sam

"Talk to someone you trust and get help to sort things out. Find somewhere safe to stay - perhaps with someone in your family, or with a friend's family until you get the help you need. Living on the streets is not safe." Anon

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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