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I don't have
to be afraid
anymore
I don't have to be afraid anymore

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 work to change this. We help them work through their problems, make safe choices and find positive alternatives to running away. Whatever they're facing, no child should feel like running is the 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

How we help missing children

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

How we help missing children

Young boy asleep on the bus

Next Generation in Nottingham is for those who have more going off in their lives than people realise. We work intensively with young people for up to two years. Many have experienced trauma and will often go missing to escape conflict at home. 

With time we help them rebuild relationships with family members or professionals, we show them how to manage emotions, and we get them focused on their future. 

Next Generation quote

The young people we worked with had 56 missing incidents between them at the start. After two years at Next Generation, they had only two. Many said it made them feel safer and improved relationships with their mum and dad.

I'm in a better place now with my dad than I've ever been. Now I can actually talk with my dad.

Improving the response to missing children

For 25 years we've been demanding 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 have now introduced Return Home Interviews, offered to 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.

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

Why does a child want to run away?

young woman looking at camera

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:

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 from home.
  • Abuse

    Physical or mental abuse can make a child feel like they have no choice but to run away.
  • Drugs and alcohol

    If parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol, they may find it hard to provide proper care for their child and home becomes a stressful place to be.

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 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.