Teen Behavioral Issues

Teen Runaway

Has your son run away or threatened to run away? You are not alone. According to the National Runaway Safeline (formerly known at the National Runaway Switchboard) one in seven kids between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away at some point. Statistics show between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away in a year.

What is the definition of a runaway? The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) defines a runaway episode as any one of the following:

  • A child leaves home without permission and stays away overnight
  • A child 14 years old or younger (or older and mentally incompetent) who is away from home chooses not to come home when expected to and stays away overnight
  • A child 15 years old or older who is away from home chooses not to come home and stays away two nights


So why do teens run away from home? In 2011, 28% of the runaway callers stated family problems (divorce, remarriage, step/blended families, problems with family rules, discipline, or problems with siblings) as the reason for their call to the National Runaway Safeline. 13% of the callers reported neglect, physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse; and 11% indicated peer and social issues including bullying as reasons for running away. Teens are looking for an escape. Many times the teen has no plans for what to do next when he/she runs away.

Possible warning signs of a teen on the verge of running away


The North American Missing Children Association says that developing a strong foundation of open communication with your child is the key to preventing most runaway cases and suggests the following runaway prevention tips:

Pay Attention – Listen when your children are talking with you. Don’t just nod your head while you’re watching television, reading the paper, or using your computer. Don’t just pretend to listen to them. Kids know the difference!

Give Respect – Acknowledge and support your child’s struggle to grow to maturity.

Understand Your Child – Try to sympathize with what your kids are going through. Look at life – at least occasionally – from their point of view. Remember that when you were their age, your ideas seemed to make sense to you.

Don’t Lecture — Everyone hates to be lectured, especially teenagers. We all respond more favorably to clear information and direction, when we know that the questions we ask will be answered and respected.

Don’t Label – Useless labels will only confuse the real issues that you wish to address.

Discuss Feelings – Talk about what it feels like to be a parent. Share with your child the things you need from him. Encourage him to talk about his feelings, too. When parents share their feelings, children know it’s safe to share their own.

Create Responsibility – Give your child choices, not orders. Help her to understand the consequences of her actions. When punishments need to be administered, try asking her what she thinks would be appropriate. Make sure the punishment fits the “crime” and is consistent with other actions you’ve taken.

Administer Positive Praise – Describe your child’s positive and negative behavior and how it affects others. Be specific and give praise to reward good behavior. Positive behavior acknowledged is positive behavior repeated. Try to praise your child than you criticize.

Stop Hassling – Asking too many questions often shuts off information. Give your child the opportunity to volunteer her thoughts and feelings, while you show a sincere interest, without probing.

Don’t Always Give The Answers – You want your children to be able to find their own answers or solutions to problems. You can help this by not giving them the answers all the time. Instead, discuss options. Play “what if” to help them develop problem-solving skills.

Use Team Work – Work together with your child to lay out the problems and find mutually agreeable solutions.

It is impossible for you to monitor your son every hour of the day. Triumph Youth Services can help. Our staff members are trained and encouraged to be effective leaders by serving as teachers or coaches who hold the young men responsible for working on problems and to act as limit setters and good listeners.

Triumph Youth Services provides a family-like community which promotes a social environment that takes on both therapeutic and healing properties instead of maintaining negative behaviors.

The clinicians at Triumph Youth Services are highly trained and have extensive experience working with adolescent youth. Our clinicians are licensed and approved as mental health professionals to provide individual, group and family therapy to address the issues associated with the reason(s) why the teen ran away in the first place and to rebuild family relationships.

Call Triumph Youth Services. We are here to help.

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