From the National Runaway Safeline: A Parent of a Runaway Teen Shares His Experience
The National Runaway Safeline serves as the Family and Youth Services Bureau's federally mandated national communication system for runaway and homeless youth. The Chicago organization offers a crisis hotline and online services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to youth at risk of running away, those who have run away or are homeless, and their families. Runaway Reality, a regular feature on the National Runaway Safeline's blog, highlights the stories of young people and families who contact the hotline. This installment is about Isaak,* a father who called the hotline after the local police department refused to file a runaway report for his 15-year-old son.
When a parent or guardian suspects, “my kid ran away from home,” their first instinct is often to call their local police and request a “Missing Person File.” According to NRS frontline team member Stephanie, those guardians may not realize how significantly the advice they receive from law enforcement can vary depending on which officer picks up on the other end of the line.
“Even though there are certain things that law enforcement should do or protocols they should follow,” says Stephanie, “it’s kind of up to each department as to how they actually enforce or follow certain policies.” That can mean headaches for concerned parents unsure about how to navigate an already stressful and precarious situation involving a loved one who has disappeared.
When Isaak* called 1-800-RUNAWAY about his 15-year-old missing son, two things caught Stephanie’s attention: the dire sound of distress in his voice, and the fact that police had refused to file a report. Isaak revealed to the officer that his son had a history of running away, substance abuse, and suicidal attempts. Though there was no evidence that the youth had crossed state lines, to that officer, the suggestion that interstate travel was possible meant that he couldn’t file.
*Names and details have been changed to respect anonymity.
More About the National Runaway Safeline"
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