We work with children who run away from home or care because of conflict, abuse or neglect.
Our research shows that every year 100,000 children run away from home or care. Running away is a key indicator that something is wrong in a child’s life. Many are forced to leave their homes or care placement.
When a child runs away they are at risk of serious harm, such as sexual exploitation and physical abuse. They often have to resort to highly dangerous survival strategies such as stealing or begging to survive and staying with strangers.
Running away or going missing is an early indicator of child sexual exploitation. As many as 70% of children who are sexually exploited go missing. No official data exists on children who have been sexually exploited but in 2011 2,083 victims of child sexual exploitation were reported and as many as 16,500 children were thought to be at high risk of sexual exploitation.
One of the best ways to ensure children are protected from harm and receive the right support is to listen to their views. An independent advocate can help children to express their views and participate in decisions about their lives. Although the right to be supported by an advocate is included in statutory guidance, our research shows that one third of local authorities do not report any spending on this service. We are lobbying for children in care, disabled children and children who are at risk of running away or sexual exploitation to have access to an independent advocate.
Our policy team works to lobby and influence decision makers to ensure that children at risk are identified as early as possible and given the support they need to move on with their life. Our Make Runaways Safe campaign seeks to ensure all children who run away are provided with a safety net.
Our main policy priorities are:
Guaranteeing that every child who runs away or goes missing from home or care is provided with a safety net through our Make Runaways Safe campaign
- Child sexual exploitation
Ensuring all young people at risk of running away or sexual exploitation are identified early and offered adequate support
- Advocacy for looked after children
Providing all children in care with access to an independent advocate
- Children facing multiple risk factors
Ensuring children facing multiple risk factors are protected through integrating policies that impact on the country’s most vulnerable children and their families
- 16- and 17-year-olds at risk of homelessness
Providing the proper support and care to make sure these vulnerable teenagers are not exposed to any further risks due to their homelessness
Learn more and take action
- Read our blogs on running away
- Find out more about who runs away
- Read our parliamentary briefings on runaways and sexual exploitation