More Youth Seeking Help Cite Abuse and Neglect, New Report Says

A homeless young man.

More and more youth are citing incidents of abuse and neglect, including emotional and verbal abuse, when connecting with the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), according to a new report analyzing incoming calls, texts, and online connections to the 24/7 resource. Abuse and neglect were among the most common issues reported by those reaching out for guidance and support, second only to family dynamics. Specifically, youth who reported abuse or neglect rose by 21% between 2014 and 2015, and by 40% between 2005 and 2015. 

Funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau, NRS has served as a national resource for runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth since 1974. The annual trend report includes information about young people's age, gender, location, and time on the street before they reach out for help. The report also compares statistics to data collected during the past year, three years, and decade to determine short- and long-term trends.

Based on 20,744 crisis connections made in 2015, NRS found that compared to the previous year:

  • They are handling more cases from youth younger than 17. Specifically, there was a 44% increase in crisis connections for 13-year-olds. According to the report, this increase may stem from efforts to raise awareness of NRS’ services and the abilty to connect with volunteers through various digital methods.
  • More youth are contacting NRS before they run away from home, contributing to a decline in the average time spent on the street. 
  • Many youth who contacted NRS were relying on friends and relatives for their needs, including housing, food, and money. Between 2014 and 2015, there was a 14% decrease in the number of connections who relied on community-based resources like shelters or soup kitchens.

“A number of important trends emerged through the report, but the most compelling and reassuring revelations is that ‘prevention’ is working and continues to be key in combatting the silent runaway crisis,” say Executive Director Maureen Blaha in an email announcing the report. “All of the report’s insights help guide and direct effective responses that keep youth safe and off the streets.”

Read the full report (PDF, 1MB) or access the fact sheet (PDF, 69KB).

More About the National Runaway Safeline

"A 40-Year Connection: How Young People Benefit From the National Communication System for Runaway and Homeless Youth"

"40 Years of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act: Maureen Blaha"

"What Can FYSB’s Network of Support for Runaway and Homeless Youth Do for You?"


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