National Runaway Switchboard Changes Name to National Runaway Safeline

A young woman carrying a backpack.

As of January 15, 2013, the National Runaway Switchboard begins doing business as the National Runaway Safeline.

As the go-to hotline for America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth and their families, why would they change their name? Here's how they put it on their website:

Simply put, the word "switchboard" no longer resonates with today’s youth. When we were founded over 40 years ago as Metro-Help, operating out of a tiny storefront in Chicago, it wasn’t uncommon for telephone operators to manually connect calls using switchboards.

However, when we asked today's teenagers what they thought a switchboard was, the responses were varied, from "DJ board" to "1920s telephones" to "outdated". The word loses its meaning in a world where technology allows humans to connect with others around the globe with the press of a button.

In addition, "switchboard" no longer reflects the various ways youth in crisis can connect with our services. Since our founding, we grew into a national organization and expanded our crisis intervention offerings to include bulletin boards, crisis emails, and live chat.

The new name reflects the 21st-century ways that the organization, which has been the federally designated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth since 1974, helps young people in need.

The National Runaway Safeline's services, including the Home Free program providing free transportation home, remain confidential, anonymous and available 24/7. The hotline's number is 1-800-RUNAWAY.

NCFY is helping to promote the hotline's new name on Facebook and Twitter--we hope you'll do the same and tell the young people you work with about this great service.

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