As we celebrate National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) this November, we will be working alongside the National Network for Youth (NN4Y), the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) and our members to increase overall awareness of the issues facing runaway youth by educating those around us about solutions to prevent our youth from running away.

According to NRS, between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away each year due to various circumstances. NRS’s theme this year is “More Than Meets the Eye” to show that runaways do not all look the same – they are friends, students, siblings, daughters and sons who are more than likely misunderstood. Many of these youth are not bad kids; they are just in bad situations.

Youth runaway due to various reasons – sometimes to escape dangerous family situations – domestic violence, parental substance abuse, neglect and so forth. Other times youth runaway because their family does not accept them for who they are due to their sexual orientation. According to NN4Y, 40 percent of youth who identify as LGBTQ are homeless. In addition, one third of homeless youth who have been treated in shelters had been physically abused after coming out to their family.

Many runaway youth end up living on the streets after running away, constantly seeking food and shelter. Experiencing this trauma at a young age in life has the potential to interfere with learning and cognitive ability, emotional self-regulation and social relationships. Aside from losing their family, friends and sense of safety and security, youth fall prey to substance abuse, sex trafficking, early parenthood, depression and post traumatic stress disorder in the time they are away from home. Furthermore, children struggle in school, often missing an excessive amount of days and repeating grades which leads to dropping out.

To prevent youth from succumbing to such acts, we at the Florida Network believe early intervention is vital to keep youth and families together. We want youth to feel safe and accepted in their homes. More than anything, we want youth to feel comfortable reaching out to us if they feel endangered, scared or alone. If you or a person you know is struggling to find common ground with parents/guardians or feel fed-up with school and have considered running away from home, the Florida Network is here to offer you help. If you or a friend has no place to go, we can help you find a place that knows what you are going through and will make sure you feel safe and comfortable. Additional advice and support can be found by calling 1-800-RUNAWAY.

To show your support of NRPM, check out NRS’s toolkit and participate in their national events.