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Thinking of running away

Why do Young People Run Away?

There are many reasons why young people would want to run away from home. More often than not they run away “From” something rather than “TO” something:
  • You do not feel safe at home
  • Physical, Sexual, Emotional abuse
  • You feel that things at home are so bad that you can’t go back there
  • Your mum and dad are fighting all the time
  • To escape stressful parts of life at home and or at school
  • You want to be with your boyfriend or girlfriend but your parents/guardians  don’t like them
  • Your parents are too strict and don’t listen.
  • You don’t like your care placement / carers
  • You want to do what you want to do when you want and to be with your friends.
  • Your friends may be older than you are and have more freedom than you.
  • Perhaps you are bored and just want to chill out with your mates and have a laugh.
  • You might want to leave home to be with someone you have met online.
  • Fear of consequences for something you have done or said (pregnancy/ sexuality)
  • Drugs and Alcohol addictions / misuse


Sometimes running away can be RISKY. You might end up in dangerous situations that you don’t want to be in.  Running away from home is not always something that is planned. Deciding to run can often be made on the spur of the moment, and you run without money, adequate clothing, phone credit, no plan about where to go or where to stay and ask for help and or shelter and most importantly how to stay safe.

Probably the most important thing for young people to understand is that running away is lot harder, and a lot less glamorous, than you may think. There are cold, wet, hungry and sleepless nights; There is danger and fear of both the known and unknown, there is loneliness and not knowing where to go and who to turn to.

Making the decision to run away:

While there is always a reason for wanting to run away it is important that you give yourself the chance to weigh up the pros and cons of running away and to also look at what options you may have. If you are going to run away you need to make the decision first and be aware of what the consequences will be – both positive and negative consequences.  

a) Why do you want to run away?
Is there a really good reason to run away, or are you just bored or tired with your situation? There's a difference between running away for a good reason (you're in physical danger) and running away for a bad reason (you had a fight with your parents). Be clear about why you want to run away – is this the best solution for you, don’t make a decision in the heat of the moment, give yourself the time to consider other options first you might regret it later if you don’t.

b) Who will be affected by your decision?
  1. Your family:  Is your family main reason that you want to run away? If it is not your family – how would your running away affect them?  Your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers – have you spoken to any of these family members about your situation, Could they help?  Would they want to help? Would they like the opportunity to help and support you?
  2. Your friends: will they understand why you have run away, Running away probably means leaving them behind, have you thought about that and how it will affect them and you?.
c) What are the possible benefits of running away?
  1. Getting away from your current situation; from neglect, abuse (verbal, physical, or sexual)
  2. Freedom; to decide what to do, where to go, who to be friends with and to make your own decisions without adult input/interference
  3. Increased independence, see the world, experience new places and people
  4. To be yourself – without being questioned / judged
  5. Impact on your family and friends
d) What are the possible negatives of running away?
  1. Not knowing where you are going to sleep each night, how you will support yourself. (Could get very ill with pneumonia, might have to steal food if you get hungry)
  2. Increased likelihood of loneliness, fear, depression
  3. Feeling alone, with no one to trust, with no one to talk to
  4. Impact on your family and friends
  5. Dangerous and risky situations every day; drunks, people fighting, being attacked, drug addicts and people with mental health problems who might scare you

What other Options do I have?

Sometimes running away might feel like it’s your only option– but it is always just ONE option.

Before you make your final decision -  there may be someone you can talk to first, like a teacher at school who could help. Find someone you can trust, who you think will help you without wanting anything in return.

You can contact the Missing Children Hotline on 116 000- this is free and opened 24 hours a day and is a confidential service, you do not have to give your name and we do not trace calls. This service will listen to you, give you advice and support and will try to help you to sort out the areas in your life that you want to run away from.

You can also contact Childline on 1800 66 66 66 or contact Teentxt by texting the word “Talk” to 50101.