By: HOLLY THOMAS
If we are all being completely honest, we have thought about running away and being on our own. It sounds like an epic adventure, right? In actuality, running away is dangerous although it isn’t a crime. Running away prones you to sexual exploitation, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, and crime or involvement with the police. Running away seems like a good way to get away from your problems, but doesn’t it actually cause more?
Sadly, the sexual exploitation of children and people in general has been going on for a long time. Young runaways are more vulnerable to adults who give them somewhere to stay or give them something to eat, they see that person as a “lifeline” when in reality they are putting their own life on the line. There was a study done by the Railway Children : Fighting for street children, that states “…of 103 children who had run away from home, found that just under a fifth had experienced sexual exploitation.” In those words it may not seem like a very big issue but the article Childhood under threat says that “An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year; 2 million children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multibillion-dollar commercial sex industry.” Which is an overwhelming amount of children not having control over not just their life, but their own bodies and what happens to them. It’s saddening to see so many children undergo such terrible circumstances just because they left home.
You may be thinking, “So they use drugs? Like weed to calm down? That’s natural, it’s fine. And plus, everyone smokes or vapes now. It’s fine.” but it isn’t just marijuana and nicotine they are using, it’s also methamphetamines, crack or other forms of cocaine, heroin, inhalants, sedatives, and even more. Because runaways are so vulnerable, they tend to use drugs and alcohol to have some type of control in their life. There were 300 runaway youths that confessed that using drugs and alcohol was used as a way to cope, is what initially led them to attemting suicide. Inhalants aren’t commonly discussed when talking about drugs, but they are incredibly deadly and addictive. Inhalants can cause liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, bone marrow damage, loss of coordination and muscle spasms, delayed behavioral development, and brain damage due to lack of oxygen reaching the brain. Those symptoms can also lead to seizures and comas if the person continues to use inhalants. With all of this information, you can clearly see that running away from home can get you involved in things that can kill you.
When you run away you probably think that you can just stay with a friend, right? Wrong. Not every parent wants to take another person in so they could easily turn you down. This leads to homelessness, over 41,000 youth are homeless on any given night in America. But even besides that, there are 4.1 million homeless people in America. This is a serious issue in society today because there are such big stigmas against the homeless that makes it to where the homeless aren’t helped by really and truly anyone. When you run away, it isn’t a 100% chance that someone will let you live with them, it’s better to stay where you are and save money to responsibly move out.
Have you ever seen the police talking to a homeless person before? That’s because the police can legally detain the homeless because they feel the need to. But, the National Homeless association that wrote an article about the police being off duty, “When they are off-duty, these officers do not always abide by consent decrees, legal settlements, or even the law with regard to panhandlers or the rights of homeless people.” Which means they aren’t following the books or the laws and just being homeless can get you involved with the police even if you aren’t doing anything illegal. The police aren’t always against the homeless population, they are legally supposed to help and help the homeless locate a homeless shelter where they provide food and very obviously shelter. Running away put most youths at risk for police involvement which almost always isn’t a good thing.
Running away seems all fun and games until you find yourself with no place to go. It’s easiest and smartest to stay home and earn money so you can move out efficiently. Running away tends to be an impulsive decision, so instead of following out that plan, calm down and try to think clear thoughts instead of letting your thoughts jumble. Although, on an offset chance your family and living situation is unsafe for any means, at the age of 14 you can legally get emancipated in California. Emancipation is a safer alternative to running away that allows minors to be a legal adult. There are always options, you just have to look a little deeper!