Primary Sources: Addressing Risk Factors and Consequences of Running Away from Home

Photograph of a young woman standing next to a brick wall with graffiti on it

Running Away From Home: A Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Risk Factors and Young Adult Outcomes, Journal of Youth & Adolescence, Volume 40, No. 5, July 2010.

What it’s about: The authors followed over 4,300 young people from 9th to 12th grade to find out what might cause them to run away from home. The study also looked at whether the causes are different for one-time or repeat runaways.

Why read it: Little is known about the specific risk factors and health-related outcomes associated with running away from home, a gap this study seeks to fill.

Biggest takeaways for youth workers: While prior research suggests that poor family dynamics is the most common reason young people run away, the authors found that heavier substance use among youth and feeling depressed and disconnected from school in ninth grade were also major predictors. The authors suggest that youth workers should address substance use and depression as part of runaway prevention efforts. Evaluation and treatment of substance abuse and depression should also be a part of runaway and homeless services.

Additional reference: The Co-Occurring and Homeless Activities Branch at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration produced several substance use and mental health screening and assessment tools, available at the Homelessness Resource Center. In addition, NCFY’s Assessment and Screening Tools for Measuring Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Independent Living Skills in Adolescents lists tools specific to adolescents, here.

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of this and other publications.)


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