Many of the calls we get involve runaway adolescents. Typically, a runaway teen will show up in a day or two. Either because plans didn’t work out or the young person wasn’t intending to run away, they’ll be back home. They’ll say they decided for one reason or another to stay away from home for a few days or were just plain irresponsible about letting anyone know. Sometimes the runaway adolescent is just looking to be obnoxious or perhaps they made an honest mistake about informing someone about a sleepover. We’ve seen it all.
The important thing is don’t panic. Second thing is, notify the police as soon as you suspect your child has run away. Sometimes a parent knows for sure because the child has texted or gone the old-fashioned route of leaving a note. Either way, once you know, the police should.
Why? For several reasons, the first of which is the most important, allowing them to look for your child among those people they come in contact with. Don’t expect the police to drop everything for an older teen who has stated their intention to run away, but if they come in contact with your child they will know that they need to be brought home.
So in a situation where your child has said they are running away from home, and don’t seem to be a danger to themselves or others, you will probably want to take some steps to find them yourself. This can involve the use of a private investigator, but we have a number of things you can try yourself that may find your child, but if not, you will have done some leg work that will allow us to get a quicker start and find your child faster.
Find information about and, if possible, contact the following to inquire about your child’s whereabouts:
- Boyfriend or Girlfriend’s House
- Best Friend and Other Close Friends’ Homes
- Employer or Volunteer Organization
- Adults Your Child Knows and May Reach Out To
The above seems obvious, of course, but what to expect when you call may not be. Your child’s friends most likely knew about any plan long in advance, and they most likely will lie for their friend. The parent(s), on the other hand, not so much. When calling a friend, try to call the home number if possible. That way you can most likely start with the parents. If all you have is the friend’s cell number, then you may have a tougher time reaching the parents. But it is important to talk to a parent. They are almost certainly not going to lie for your child, and you can also make it clear that your child is not permitted to live anywhere but your home.
You may find that unless you have contact information about your child on hand, that they erased that information from computers and devices that they left behind. Also, many runaways receive advice on the Internet from other runaway adolescent cases. Your child might take the surprising precaution of disposing of printed pictures of themselves and erasing any information from their room and online world about their friends.
But no matter how hard a young person tries to remain in hiding, the reality is that after a while they are usually found, when they don’t choose to make contact themselves. Remember if they do make contact, that running away is not a crime, and kids have been doing it since something like forever. That’s not to trivialize it, but you likely will not get your child home by being in a rage and making threats. Stay calm and talk. The longer you just talk, the most likely it’ll be that your child will decide to make their own way home.
If you do feel you need to discuss the services of a private investigator for runaway adolescent case, please don’t hesitate to contact us.