Young people who had experience of running away from children’s homes, schools or foster placements, were randomly selected to take part in various consultation sessions. The discussions raised harrowing details of what they experienced when they ran away and covered some of the following areas:
- what made them run away
- where did they run to
- what they did
- what it was like
- what dangers they faced
what worries they had.
Overall, they spoke about three different reasons for running away: to enjoy themselves for a while before returning; to be somewhere or with someone they wanted to go to; or, most importantly, because they couldn’t cope or did not feel protected.
The dangers they faced whilst on the run ranged from stealing for their survival to life-threatening activities. They specifically wanted the Government to know their views on how they should be treated by staff and by the police when they were found. They believed that police stations should have counsellors to talk to them about why they had run away, in case they were running from major problems, and not treat them like criminals.
How they were treated when they returned made a big difference to whether they were likely to do it again. Staff should listen to them and talk about any problems they have and treat them confidentially. Their views clearly state what questions staff need to ask and think about in the services they provide.
They experience problems like any teenager; however, staff should be aware of the additional problems they face as young people in care. They need to know how to help them deal with the different types of pressures they face.
Dr Roger Morgan commented: “If a young person runs away once, they are likely to do it again, although they usually intend to return anyway. However, staff and professionals need to be mindful of the clear messages in the report. Listening and talking to solve problems is essential. And as the young people told me – some young people who run away never come back.”
For the full detailed report, please visit www.rights4me.org.uk