Children missing from home

Every year 100,000 children and young people go missing or run away from home. They can quickly fall under the radar and find themselves in dangerous situations. Many feel they have no one to turn to.

We want to change this. We help children who go missing work through their problems instead of running. Our advice and face-to-face counselling can help them make safe and positive choices about going home. Whatever they're facing, no one should feel like running away is the only solution.

How many people go missing in the UK each year?

144

children go missing or run away each day in the UK

1 in 5

young people have sofa-surfed in the past year

2 in 3

children who go missing are not reported missing to the police

Missing from home video

Missing landing page

What are we doing about it?

For 25 years we have been calling on the Government and authorities to do what's right for every child who goes missing or runs away.

We demanded that children who run away get someone to talk to when they come back. To talk about why they went missing and what would stop them doing it again.

The Government heard our call. They've now introduced Return Home Interviews - conducted with every returning child or young person within 72 hours. Now we can understand their reasons for running away and can help to stop it from happening again.

What services do we offer missing children?

We offer services across the country that support children and young people who are at risk of going missing from home or care.

Our Missing from Home services in Greater Manchester focus on the ‘push’ factors - such as abuse, bullying or family conflict - and ‘pull’ factors (like grooming) in order to combat the underlying causes of running away. 90% of young people reported that they were going missing less or not at all, and 77% said they felt safer.

Next Generation is a service designed by young people for young people. It offers intensive, one-to-one support. And it works. Evidence shows the service has reduced the number of young people going missing. It also made them feel safer and reduced the chances of misusing alcohol and drugs.

How many people missing children have we helped?

1,807

Return Home Interviews have been completed nationally in the UK since their introduction

2,155

young people have accessed our Missing from Home services since we started providing them

Jada promo

I have strength

Life at home was tough for Jada. She would go missing to escape abuse. She looked for help, found us, and is now confidently looking to the future.

Why does a child want to run away?

Why does a child run away?

When a child goes missing or runs away we need to stop and listen. Too often, when they are found, they're sent home without question. But we need to understand why they went missing so it doesn't happen again.

While each case is unique, there are some factors that are common in cases where children run away or go missing:

Missing from home - right side

signs a child might go missing

  • They’re being groomed — Young people who are being exploited - either in-person or online - can be manipulated into running away with an abuser. 
  • Family problems — If parents are fighting a lot with each other or their children this can make a young person want to escape the drama.
  • Abuse — From cuts and bruises to a child suddenly becoming very antisocial. Physical and mental abuse can force a child to run away.
  • Drugs and alcohol — When parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol they create a toxic environment at home.

What to do if your child goes missing

When a child runs away or goes missing it can be very upsetting for any parent or carer. Try not to panic. Instead, follow these three steps:

Check

Check for signs of where they might have gone. Check their room, check social media, call their friends, check their friends' social media.

Think

Has there been a change in behaviour recently? Have they: been wearing different clothes, using substances, changing their friends or their circumstances in any way?

Call

Call the police. You don't have to wait 24 hours. Keep a log of the police officer you have spoken to and dial 101 for updates.