Did you know that around 9% of teens run away each year? There are many complex reasons why teens run away from home. The National Runaway Safeline estimates that around 10% of the time it’s triggered by verbal abuse, followed by physical abuse and sexual abuse.
Unfortunately, the streets are not a safe place for teens, with many engaging in survival sex, being sexually abused, or ending up in child sex trafficking situations. And in some cases, a missing child may not be a runaway – there may have been a kidnapping or other reasons for the child’s disappearance.
Many concerned adults want to know how to find someone who runs away, how to cope with children who want to run away, and how to discipline a child who has run away and then returned.
Below we look at some of the common reasons why teens run away, steps to take to find missing teenagers, and explain how Lawrence Ryan Investigations can assist you in trying to find your missing child.
Get the Answers You Need!
Work with the best reviewed private investigation firm in Chicago, IL to uncover truth, drive results, and win your cases.
Common Causes of Teen Runaways
A complex number of factors play a role in why teens run away. Some of the most common reasons include mental illness and depression, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and family issues and conflicts.
Mental health issues
According to extensive research conducted by reputable institutions, such as the National Institute of Mental Health, a staggering number of teenagers experience mental health disorders. These conditions include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others. The burden of these disorders can be unbearable for adolescents, leading them to seek an escape from their circumstances.
If a child has an abusive parent or has been exposed to adult predators, there’s a high chance they may run away from home. A high percentage of youth that run away from home have indicated that physical or sexual abuse was the reason.
Another reason why teens often run away is that they get caught up in using drugs or alcohol, which can lead to them remaining on the streets after running away. Access to drugs and alcohol at a young age can result in drug or alcohol abuse, which is a common cause for runaway teenagers.
Challenging family life or personal life
Many teens may run away because of bad family dynamics or difficult family relationships. This may be because parents are going through a divorce, or they have to cope with blended families. There is also the possibility of other traumatic experiences like bullying at school that make a child feel they want to run away to escape the bad situation.
Teenagers and Parenting: How to Prevent Your Child from Running Away
Teenagers who run away can be exposed to a variety of risks associated with living on the streets or in shelters. It’s important for parents to find ways to prevent children from running away, especially if there are signs indicating that your teenager is considering the possibility.
One of the best ways to prevent your child from running away is to have open conversations about the issues affecting them. This gives you the chance to learn about the source of their unhappiness and try to help them. In some cases, you may need help from a professional psychologist or counselor.
The National Communications System for Runaway and Homeless Youth, which is operated by the National Runaway Safeline, also has valuable tips on how to prevent your child from running away.
Searching for the Runaway Child: How to Locate a Missing Teen?
When a teenager goes missing, it is a distressing and urgent situation that demands swift action. The first 48-hour period is critical to finding runaway youths. As parents, guardians, or concerned members of the community, it is essential to understand how to effectively locate a runaway child. By employing a combination of proactive measures, resources, and support networks, we can increase the chances of finding the missing teen and ensuring their safety.
1. Search your house
Start by doing a thorough search of your home to make sure your teen isn’t hiding somewhere. If you suspect they have run away, try and see if you can find any clues from looking at their rooms and belongings as to where they may have gone.
It’s also useful to make a list of things they may have taken with them like a phone (which could be traced), money, food, clothes, or a car.
Many teen runaways come back to get things they left behind, so find a way of monitoring your home, particularly at night or when you’re usually out of the house.
2. Call the police
If you suspect that your teen is a runaway, call the police immediately. You do not have to wait 24 hours – that is a myth.
When you report them as a missing person, ask the police department to put your child in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Persons File.
It’s also important that you give the policy an accurate physical description of your child so law enforcement can create child alerts and child posters to share with other law enforcement agencies that may help to track down your child.
3. Contact your child’s friends and classmates
Make contact with all your child’s friends, their parents, and any other people your child may have asked for help. Spreading the word quickly to your network will activate people into helping look for your child.
It’s important to keep a list of all the people you called and what they each told you. And remember that oftentimes friends will hide the truth as they feel they are protecting your child by doing so.
4. Look through your child’s phone and devices
You may want to look through your child’s phone to see their messages and call history as it may give you an indication of where they are or their state of mind. But in many cases, runaways plan their escape and delete their phone history.
If your teen has a mobile phone and it’s in your name, you can check the call logs without needing a court order. That may provide you with some clues as to their whereabouts.
You may be able to locate their phone using GPS if they’ve taken it with them. The same applies to digital devices with GPS tracking systems. And you can check your teen’s emails and other device history to try and figure out where they may have gone.
5. Check with your child’s school and any employers
Contact your child’s school and teachers to see if they may know where your child is and whether your child had been skipping school before their disappearance.
The school can also shed light on who your child’s friends are. If your child has a job, check with their employer when last they showed up for work, who they hang out with at work, and if they can provide any clues as to why your child may have run away.
6. Check local hangouts
If there are places in your neighborhood where your child likes to hang out, then go there to check. If you don’t know their hangouts, ask their friends to give you some ideas.
7. Check local shelters
It’s also worth checking your closest youth shelter and any homeless shelter in your area to see if your child has gone there. You can also phone shelters to ask if your child has made contact with them recently.
8. Install caller ID and consider *57
If your phone doesn’t have caller ID, then you may want to get it so that if your child does call, you can see where they are calling from.
And you may also want to consider activating *57. This is a tracing service available for a small fee that you can call after your child calls home. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work for cellular telephone calls.
Write down the date and time you call this number as the trace information can only be provided to a law enforcement agency.
9. Call a professional investigator to help you
Often private investigators know best how to find a runaway teen. There’s a lot of information and leads to process and go through when it comes to finding your teen and getting professional assistance can help you be more strategic about locating your missing child.
When hiring a private investigator, make sure they are appropriately qualified and experienced. And a top tip is to interview them in person first before hiring them.
10. Make and display posters around your community
You may want to make posters of your missing child and add a contact number and then put them up around your neighborhood.
Teen Runaway Locator Service: Contact Lawrence Ryan Investigations
The police are often very busy, so your best solution to find your daughter or son quickly is to hire a private investigator. While it’s not easy to locate a missing teen or to find a missing person, having help from our PIs can make it a lot easier to find your runaway teen.
Time is of the essence when it comes to finding a missing teen. Appointing a private investigator as soon as you have filed a missing persons report with the police is therefore critical. They are well-versed in various techniques, such as gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing information.
PIs are skilled in discreetly monitoring individuals, tracking their movements, and identifying patterns or behaviors that could lead to the teenager’s whereabouts. Whether it involves physical surveillance or utilizing advanced technology, PIs have the expertise to employ the most effective strategies to gather information and bring the missing teen home safely.
As a verified licensed Investigator with over 38 years of experience, Lawrence Ryan Investigation Services is well-versed in missing person investigations and ready to dedicate our professional expertise to locating your child.
We have access to a wide range of resources that can aid in the search for a missing teenager. Our PIs have established networks and contacts within law enforcement agencies, which can facilitate collaboration and expedite the investigation process. Additionally, we can leverage our connections to gather information from sources not readily available to the public, such as databases, industry contacts, and specialized tools.
If your child has run away, contact us today to find out more about how we can help you locate them.