Every time a youth leaves home without announcement, it is worrisome. However, it is the reality for many parents in Niagara County and the country. Some youth leave home repeatedly, and have no contact for days. Runaway youth are some of the most vulnerable young people in our country, therefore certain measures should be taken to keep them safe, even when they are not home. If you feel that your child is going to run away from home, here are some conversations you can have to help ensure their safety:
– If the youth has not left home yet, ask what they need to stay home. Though not all requests may be possible, there may be an opportunity to talk about the youth’s reason for leaving
– Law enforcement should be contacted every time a youth runs away, no matter how many times they have left and come back on their own before
– Where will the youth go? Are there trusted family members the youth can stay with?
– Does the youth have a cell phone to call for help if they need it? Do they know who to call, and when to ask for help?
– Is the youth familiar with resources in the community?
– What does the youth need to happen to return home?
– If the youth will tell you, find out where they plan to go, when they plan to return, and how they will fulfill their needs such as food and shelter while they are away. Often times, children leave home to “cool off” and return shortly after, but having a plan for their safety in place can help protect them.
Resources for Runaway Youth
– Local law enforcement or 911 in an emergency
– Casey House Youth Shelter offers emergency shelter for runaway and homeless youth. They can be reached at (716) 285-7125 or at 710 Cedar Avenue Niagara Falls, NY 14301
– National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST, or online at missingkids.org
– National Runaway Safeline: 1-800-RUNAWAY or online at 1800runaway.org
– Niagara County Crisis Services: (716) 285-3515
– The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara’s Safe Harbour Program provides case management services to at-risk children and teens. Call for more information: (716) 285-0045