More Youth Run Away Who Have Binge-Drinking Parents, Been in Foster Care or Lived Away From Their Parents

National Runaway Safeline's New Study Finds a Connection Between Family Characteristics and Adolescent Runaway Behavior

Apr 29, 2014, 07:00 ET from National Runaway Safeline

CHICAGO, April 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many family characteristics are predictors of youth runaway behavior, as determined in a new study released today by the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), a 24/7 hotline and online services for runaway, homeless and at-risk youth. The study reveals that it's more common for youth to run away who have parents that binge drink, have been in the foster care system or have lived away from their parent for more than six months.

"Every year, we see that family dynamics is the No. 1 issue reported by youth in crisis who contact the National Runaway Safeline," said Maureen Blaha, NRS executive director.  "Studies like this help us better understand what's affecting today's youth so we can enhance our programs and services to better support them."

The study, an analysis of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data set conducted by Jennifer Benoit-Bryan, a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois in Chicago, for NRS, investigates the correlation between family characteristics and adolescent runaway behavior. It consists of interviewing a nationally representative sample of 12,105 American adolescents in grades seven through 12 at two different points in their school career. 

Some key findings show:

    • Parents who binge drink have kids who are more than twice as likely to run away from home compared to parents who never binge drink.
    • Youth who have been physically (1.4 more times likely), mentally (1.4 times more likely), or sexually (1.3 more times likely) abused are more likely to run away from home compared to those who have not been abused.
    • For youth whose parent has had to live apart from them for six months or more the likelihood of running away more than doubles from 7.5 percent to 16.6 percent.
    • Youth who have been in foster care are over 2.5 times more likely to run away than those who have not.

NRS makes more than 250,000 connections to help and hope through hotline (1-800-RUNAWAY), online ( and offline resources. It provides crisis intervention, referrals to local resources, and education and prevention services to youth, families and community members. For the full study or more information, visit

SOURCE National Runaway Safeline