This paper is a discussion on the reasons why teenagers run away, what they run away from and what can be done to help these young people.
This paper looks at the problem of teenage runaways in America today. The author examines research on runaways accumulated by time spent at a runaway shelter, interacting with, observing, and interviewing young people, as well as accessing their files, which included reports by social workers and juvenile justice system officers. The paper looks at the stories of six particular runaways, and what was done to help them.
“Runaways do not want to leave home. The decision to run away is not an easy one and Teenagers struggle to find ways to love their parents even when there is chronic and acute family dysfunction – physical and sexual abuse, authoritarian and arbitrary parenting styles, neglect and abandonment, drug abuse, and other sources of conflict. Runaways wrestle with their dilemma, but ultimately choose what they view as personal survival over family unity. Running away is a search for connection. When parents do not nurture and protect their children – instead offering abuse and neglect – the bonds that hold the family together weaken and rupture. Running away from home, paradoxically, is a search for connection, but with others outside the family who will provide this nurturance and protection. Even after running away, teenagers often seek reconciliation with family members.”