Teenagers Reveal Lack of Knowledge About Help if Contemplating Running Away

Oct 27, 2010, 11:05 ET from National Runaway Switchboard

Research conducted in Chicago, Los Angeles schools uncovers challenges, opportunities to increasing youth access to services  

CHICAGO, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nearly two in five students surveyed said they had, at some time, considered running away, according to research conducted and compiled for the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC).

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The report, "Youth's Knowledge of Services for Runaways: Findings from a Survey of High School Students," shows students have little knowledge of services to help runaway youth.

"Data from this research and from NRS' Why They Run report points to the fact that we need to be where students are to make an impact, and more can be done to ensure they know services are available," said Maureen Blaha, NRS executive director. "We have free resources including our school-based Runaway Prevention Curriculum with relevant information about the runaway crisis in America and where youth and parents can receive help."

Additionally, the report indicates that youth who think about running may be in the same social networks at school and typically turn to friends when they need help. This implies that providing information in schools can lead to the sharing of knowledge among students who need it most.

Of 1,246 students surveyed (963 in L.A., 283 in Chicago), researchers found:

  • Less than 25 percent of students say their school provides information on services available to youth who have run away.
  • Girls (48 percent) were more likely than boys (39 percent) to consider running away.  
  • Few youth with runaway experience, or who have seriously considered running away, have contacted services to help runaways.
  • Only 13 percent of youth who have seriously considered running away said they would call a hotline.

Blaha added, "The front line team of  staff and volunteers who handle crisis calls on our 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline hear firsthand some of the issues facing youth – bullying in schools, sexual orientation, abuse at home – that may contribute to the rash decision of running away. This national crisis needs additional resources to ensure youth know about services and alternatives to running."  

These latest findings supplement a report released by NRS earlier this year, "Why They Run: An In-depth Look at America's Runaway Youth."

For information on NRS and to download the full report, visit www.1800RUNAWAY.org.

SOURCE National Runaway Switchboard