Each year thousands of teenagers go missing from their homes. Although the majority of them return home or are found soon after, all children who go missing are potentially at risk of harm, and a significant number, because of their circumstances, will face the risk of sexual, criminal or economic exploitation.
And when a teen goes missing without evidence of abduction, oftentimes, they are immediately thought of as “runaways” who are throwing tamper tantrums over home problems or situations they don’t want to address. Sadly, this mindset opens up a gateway for teens to possibly experience harm and trauma, while the assumption that they are runaways puts the blame on caregivers, removes the government’s role and implies that these teens got what they deserved.
What’s worse, the narrative around many teens who have recently gone missing has been to frame them as “runaways”, warranting no real investigation. It’s this thinking that increases the teens’ susceptibility and vulnerability to violence. After all, who’s going to look for a teen many believe could be missing voluntarily?
Labeling teens as “runaways” can also cause law enforcement to pull back on the resources spent in seeking them, making the effort to bring them back home more complicated. These dangerous assumptions have been the cause of many trafficking-related kidnappings. Many resulting in death.
Responding to all missing children reports places a high demand on police time, but the consequences of not immediately and aggressively investigating cases can be extremely serious, leaving some children at risk of significant harm.
Not a Runaway, Inc is here to help change the narrative and help search for all teens who go missing, uncharacteristically.