Young runaways need our help
In the last few years safeguarding of young people who run away from home or care has risen on the government’s agenda. But more needs to be done to ensure these children receive support.
Today, International Missing Children’s Day, is a good day to look at the help these children need.
Supporting young runaways for a quarter century
Over 25 years ago we opened our first service for young people who had run away from home or care, and began our programme of research to understand why young people run away and the dangers they face.
Our research reports concerning young runaways began in 1999, confirming what children accessing our projects were telling us. Many of the 100,000 children who run away from home or care every year experience neglect and domestic violence.
Their needs are not often understood by professionals who see them as 'pushing boundaries' rather than what is often the case: young people who have been let down so often they don’t know how else to ask for help, and no longer believe there are adults on their side.
Together, we’re helping young runaways
As part of our recent Make Runaways Safe campaign began, we have campaigned for changes to create a national safety net for all runaway children.
We’ve seen many improvements, including the government’s new Missing Children and Adults Strategy in 2011. Early this year, the government announce revised statutory guidance on missing children and more recently introduced wider reforms for young people in care.
Each change makes a huge difference to young people who need someone to listen to them, and persistently offer them help, until they are ready to trust professionals again
More needs to be done
Children missing from family homes. While recent reforms have addressed the vulnerabilities children missing from care face, the majority of young people who run away or go missing live in family homes and they would not benefit from more focused help.
These children are more likely to miss out on vital support services, such as return interviews.
More needs to be done so children who come from neglectful home environments are not further neglected by statutory services.
Young people aged 16-17 are most vulnerable. Too often, these young people who go missing do not have their needs assessed or supported. Their childhood, which is often chaotic, can easily spiral out of control as they move to a bleak adulthood.
International Missing Children’s Day reminds us to stay focused and to keep fighting for children who run away as a cry for help.
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