One in seven adolescents will run away in their lifetime, and as many as 3 million kids are on the run in the United States, according to GirlsHealth.gov, a website created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The reasons for running away can differ as much as the kids themselves.
Drugs or Alcohol
Drugs or alcohol can have a significant effect on a teenager deciding to run. The substance abuse might be present in the one or both parents or in the teenager himself, according to the KidsHealth website. A teenager who runs because of a substance abuse habit might seek to hide the problem from parents. Life on the run can make a drug or alcohol habit grow worse because the teen could turn to substances to get through the day.
When abuse is present in a family, a teenager can reach a point where she feels it’s too dangerous to stay. If the home is abusively critical, a teenager can develop such feelings of anger, fear and failure that running seems to be the only option, said James Lehman with the Empowering Parents website. Children might have an idealistic vision of what life on the street will entail, possibly deciding that this option is preferable to continuing to live at home.
Many family circumstances can make running away attractive to teenagers. A divorce and subsequent blended family with stepparents and siblings can create a difficult life for teenagers. A teenager might leave in haste after an argument or intense conflict with parents, according to the Focus Adolescent Services website. A teenager might also choose to run as a result of communication problems with family members, according to the Minnesota Adopt website.
Peer pressure can also play a part in running away. If a teenager does something or makes a mistake that causes fear of reprisal or consequences, the teen’s peers might suggest or encourage running. If a teen lacks effective problem-solving skills, running away might seem the perfect solution, warned Lehman. Instead of approaching a circumstance with a positive attitude to resolve it, the teen might cave in to pressure to run. It’s even possible for a predator to influence a teenager to run away, warns the Focus Adolescent Services website.