What Are the Dangers of Running Away From Home?

Finding a safe shelter is hard, and runaway children are vulnerable if on their own at night.

National Runaway Switchboard states that between 1.6 and 2.8 million children run away in America every year. Many of these children are running from personal problems, but can encounter even greater ones when living on the streets. There are people who take advantage of vulnerable runaways, and you can find yourself in dangerous positions. Talk to a trusted friend or helpline if you’re thinking about running away, because they can offer you support and help you deal with the root of your problems.

1 No Money

Having no money means you won't be able to afford the basic things your body requires. You need money to buy food, water and medical supplies. Without money you won't be able to afford health care if your policy expires, which puts your life at risk if you fall severely ill. Children and teenagers who run away often resort to crime to gain money, or are taken advantage of by adults who promise money.

2 No Food

Hunger is not only uncomfortable, but will also make you weak and lethargic. You might get sick quicker if you become underweight, and you won't have as much energy to fight viruses and illnesses you contract.

3 Nowhere to Sleep

There are many dangers to not having a safe place to sleep. You will be exposed to the elements, including snow and thunderstorms. Exposure to rain, cold or extreme heat can make you fall ill, and you’ll have trouble fighting any viruses if you’re malnourished. Many streets are noisy and dangerous at night, and you can become exhausted from lack of sleep.

4 No Advice

Being alone means you won’t have anybody to confide in. There won’t be anybody to advise you if you find yourself in a situation you’re uncomfortable about, meaning you might put yourself in a dangerous position.

5 Crime

Many children and teenagers who are homeless for a prolonged period resort to crime to try and help their situation. Theft is common because stolen goods can be sold for money, but this can result in prosecution and might affect your future chances of getting a job. There are also people who extort vulnerable young adults, forcing you into dangerous situations that will make them money.

6 Substance Abuse

Some runaways turn to drugs and alcohol to try and escape their problems. Substance addiction requires money to fund, and young adults often resort to crime to pay for their dependencies. Both drugs and alcohol are extremely addictive and are often fatal with long-term use.

Charlotte Hills began writing in 2007. She is a published children's novelist and a freelance home, garden and craft writer. Her work has been published in "You Magazine" and "Hampshire Life." Hills has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Bath Spa University.