Young people run away from home because they think they have no other option. Keeping youth from running away in the first place is one way we can prevent youth homelessness and sexual exploitation.That means getting young people help before they run – whether that’s someone to talk to, a night or two in an emergency shelter or at a relative’s house, or more intensive family counseling to resolve underlying issues at home.
Life on the streets is dangerous for recent runaways. Within 48 hours, most will be approached by a predator. These predators patrol bus stations, public parks, shopping centers and look for kids who look lost or have a big backpack with them. Repeat runaways are particularly at risk for being sexually exploited, as noted in a recent New York Times piece on the topic.
If you know a young person who is having trouble at home or school, reach out to them. Encourage them to get help before the problem becomes insurmountable. Here are other community resources for the King County area:
- YouthCare’s Safe Place program: every Metro bus is a designated Safe Place where young people can ask for help. The driver will connect them to YouthCare or one of our partners and transport will be arranged. The Safe Place Coordinator can also be reached at 1 (800) 495-7802, option 2.
- The National Runaway Switchboard: a 24-hour confidential hotline for youth in crisis. Call 1 (800) RUNAWAY.
Crisis Clinic: a 24-hour confidential hotline for any community member in crisis. Call 1 (866) 427-4747.