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Signs That Your Child Might Run Away

Runaway children come from all backgrounds — from both urban and rural settings and from every socio-economic class. It is important to recognize the warning signs that your child might be exhibiting. Remember, thoughts of or plans to run away often start long before the child actually leaves. If the warning signs are recognized and acted upon, you may be able to prevent your child from becoming a runaway.

If you notice changes in your child’s typical behaviour, it is important to get actively involved.

Behaviours to be Aware of

The following are behaviours that you will want to pay attention to:

  • You notice a change in your child’s typical mood or behaviour (i.e. they seem depressed, anxious, irritable, withdrawn and isolates themselves from family or friends).

  • There is an increase in rebellious and /or reckless behaviour and rule breaking (e.g. coming home late or not at all, drinking, fighting, lying and stealing, etc.).

  • Your child threatens to run away or talks about running away.

  • Your child spends excessive amounts of time online and it is interfering with other areas and responsibilities in their life.

  • Your child receives gifts or expensive items and you do not know where or who these gifts have come from.

  • Your child develops a “new” relationship with someone outside of their typical social network and you notice changes in their behaviour (e.g. increased rebelliousness, argumentative, dismissive, etc.).

  • You suspect your child may be sexually active and at risk of becoming pregnant, or you suspect your child may be pregnant.

  • Your child has problems in school, including skipping classes, a lack of interest in schoolwork, a sudden drop in grades, being suspended and/or facing an expulsion.

  • There are radical changes in your child’s appearance combined with any of the above changes.

  • Your child has become involved with gangs or has gang paraphernalia.

  • You notice signs of self-harming behaviour such as cutting, substance use issues, and promiscuity.

  • Your child begins to save money or keep belongings in a bag or backpack.

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