You’ve had a confrontation with your kid. It’s escalated quickly and got out of control. Now you have a runaway on the streets and don’t know what to do next. Tensions are high and anger collides with fear because someone you love is possibly in danger. What yo do next can be crucial and it’s important to make fast, well thought out choices. These 3 tips can help save valuable time.
Leave a Paper Trail
Step one is really simple and probably the hardest choice most parents can make. When a with a runaway on the streets you have to call the police. I understand that this is a hard decision to make but unfortunately to the situation it has to be done. The parents need to have a written account of the events that took place and the police need to be aware that the child is no longer under the supervision of their legal guardians. This call will be recorded! This will be documented, there is no way around that at this point. Remember, we are protecting everyone involved at this point and the hard choices must be made.
The police are going to ask you some tough questions. They will want to know what happened, how the events took place and why you didn’t “stop them” from running away. It’s important to be clear & honest at this point. Tell the police that you could not have prevented the situation and what steps you have taken to try and deescalate the situation prior to the runaway. I don’t know at this point if you should call your local Department of Social Services or whatever it might be called in your area. Sometimes it can be helpful to have a record of this but other times it can cause the situation to get even more out of control as well. These agencies have come under more scrutiny as of late for making poor choices and helping escalate situations. My suggestion is to allow the police to decide who gets involved and who does not.
Looking for Your Kid on the Streets?
I have pretty strong feelings about this one. I don’t think that parents should go out looking for a kid who is a repeat runaway. I think there are always exceptions to this as well. The first time you have a runaway on the streets the desire to look is going to be strong and the best advice I can give you is to know your kid. I first time runaway might need a parent to come get them, especially if the decision was made in haste and they are in over their head.
You have to know your runaway. Do they have a plan, resources while on the streets, access to money, a drug addiction, things like this are going to depend on what steps you take next. A tip for parents looking for their teens out on the streets. Know your kids routine. Despite the fact that they are on the streets your kid probably has a semi normal routine. The first place to check is going to be places they frequent regularly and at regular times.
I don’t think you should give this kind of behavior a lot of power. The rules should be really clear in the family and before you have a runaway on the streets they should know what steps your going to take next. For repeat runaways this is the kind of power struggle they are looking for in order to change a situation. Playing on your families fears & insecurities your runaway can manipulate the situation to get what they want. You can’t let this happen. You have to let your runaway know that running away does not solve ANY problem but only causes more. It’s called “unintentional attention” and this type of attention can unintentionally tell a runaway that this is the solution to their problems. This is not a lesson you want them learning.
Be Clear With Your Expectations.
If you do find your runaway on the streets you’re going to have to make a decision. You can talk to them until you are blue in the face, you can hell and scream as well, but unless you’re willing to physically drag your runaway back home (and keep them there with force), coming home and staying home has to be their choice.
I’m personally feel bad for parents that run after kids on the streets and beg and plead with them to come home. By the runaway saying yes and doing a “favor” for you, you lose all power in the situation and leave yourself open to be manipulated the next time a problem comes about. If you do this, expect them to play “the runaway card” again. It’s probably going to happen. I would suggest instead coming to “terms” with your runaway. Letting them know you want them home and that is the best place for them but also let them know what to expect in the way of consequences & accountability for their actions.
Having a runaway on the streets is mentally and emotionally draining on both parties.
There is no right set of answers on how to deal with a runaway on the streets and you’re going to have to make these calls based on what is best for both your in home family and “on the streets” family. Knowing your kids & communication are the foundations you can use to help keep this negative situation from turning excessively so.
www.ActingNotReacting.com (A Common Sense Guide To Teens In Crisis)