Runaway youth face increasing economic struggles

May 8, 2013

Photo courtesy of National Runaway Safeline
The National Runaway Safeline handles an average of 100,000 calls annually. The organization reports increased economic hardship for runaway youth.

The National Runaway Safeline says more youth are running away because of money problems.

“Youth are telling us [their families are struggling] so if they are able to be on their own, it really will help that family as a whole, succeed,” says Maureen Blaha, Executive Director of NRS.

She also said older youth are sometimes explicitly asked to leave the home and become independent, “Which is not a choice I think they family would make if the economic situation was different.”

This anecdotal evidence is supported by a report the organization released about  runway trends over the past decade. Youth contacting the safeline this year were more likely to mention economic problems, an increase of 14 percent over the past year and 56 percent over the last 10 years.  

Runaway youth are also much more likely to end up in shelters than they were even a year ago, and have a harder time finding  ways to support themselves.

“Going back home may not always be the right solution, so it’s even more important for those youth to be able to have job opportunities,” said Blaha.

As a result of these changes, the safeline is now providing more information on job training opportunities.

Both youth and concerned adults, can call the runaway safeline at 1-800-Runaway or live chat at the organizations website.

Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her @shannon_h