Children who are missing from home

Our missing from home work keeps these vulnerable young people safe and supports them to return home when possible
These children and young people can become invisible and struggle to cope. Support our work so that we can be there for these young people

Our work with missing children

Every year 100,000 children and young people, under the age of 16, go missing or run away from home or care. These children are vulnerable and alone and can often fall under the radar, and without intervention from the police or social care they can end up in dangerous situations.

Read more about our work with missing children

We run local services for children and young people who go missing or run away and are with them every step of the way, until they're ready to share their experiences, often for the first time.

We have advice for children and young people that might be considering running away from home and if they are away from home, we work with them to make sure they receive confidential advice and advocacy so that they are involved in the decisions affecting their lives.

If a child decides to return home, we work with them to make sure a return home interview is carried out so that the child is heard and they are less likely to run away from home in the future.

Missing from home

If a child goes missing from home, there should be systems in place that protect them.

We work with young people so they feel safe to return home when possible. We make sure they are listened to and work with the family to make it less likely they will run away from home again.

Understanding why young people run away from home

No child wants to run away from home. They don’t long to abandon a warm place to sleep, a roof over their head or their most treasured possessions. But often the situations a vulnerable child faces in their home life become unbearable. Most of the time when a young person runs away, it’s because they have no choice.

Below are a number of the most common reasons why teens run away from home, and details of the signs that someone is about to run away.

Our work to keep children missing from home safe

For more than 25 years we have been leading the way in researching, lobbying and implementing system changes to protect young runaways.

Thanks to our work, young people that run away from home are more protected and if they do choose to go back home they must have a return home interview with an independent person - which makes it less likely that they will runaway again.

Missing from home services

We work with young people across the country who have run away from home or care, or are at risk of doing so. We are commissioned by the Police and other bodies to deliver effective missing from home services.

Our missing and CSE services work hand in hand as we know that children who have experienced CSE are more likely to go missing from home.

Maddie's story

At 15 Maddie was suffering abuse at home. She ran away and was sleeping on the streets.

Luckily, Maddie came across one of our services and she found out that there were people that would really listen to her and she turned her life around.

Advice for children

When things get difficult at home young people might think that they want to run away from home.

Our advice hub has information on who you can turn to for help and services that can offer support, no matter what your situation.

Advice for parents

While there are a huge range of reasons why a young person will run away or go missing, the result of their actions on the adults who care about them are nearly always the same: fear, panic, stress and anguish.

Having a child run away or go missing is a nightmare for any parent or carer, but this article will hopefully help you to manage the situation and know what to do if your child runs away from home.

When a young person returns home

To give these young people the best possible future, it's important to know what actions to take when they return home. Knowing the appropriate response and can help understand and prevent future cases of going missing. 

We've compiled some advice on what to do when a young person returns home, including how to remove their information from the internet. 

Young runaway statistics

It is estimated that at least 100,000 children in the UK run away from home each year, and that is just one of many teenage runaway statistics that make for startling reading.

In order to illustrate the extreme scale of the problem that children today are experiencing, we’ve gathered together some runaway statistics that should make the issues they face more tangible.

Young runaway FAQs

If you’re thinking about running away, you’re probably worried about some of the consequences of doing it. Will your parents or loved ones be angry? Will your siblings feel you’ve abandoned them? Will you be safe on the streets? Can you get arrested for running away?

It's important to understand that it is not illegal in the UK to run away. So if you feel the need to talk to the police, you do not need to fear any consequences.