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Every year, the National Runaway Safeline indicates that between 1.6 to 2.8 million youth run away in the U.S. These numbers can be worrisome, especially for parents and legal guardians with teenagers at home. Keep reading to find out some signs of a runaway teen and tips to prevent this from happening.

Coming Home Late

If your teen usually comes home at a certain time, it can be surprising and frustrating when they come home later without permission. Teens are transitioning into young adults that crave independence and freedom to make their own choices. However, if your teen continues to come home later and later over the course of several days, it may be cause for concern. Your teen may be figuring out how far they can go before someone notices they are gone.

When this happens, many parents and legal guardians may try to use punishment to enforce the house rules, including curfews. While this is understandable, this can potentially upset a teenager even more. The more upset they become, the more likely it is that they will run away from home. Rather than drill them with questions when they get home, it’s better to ask some general questions about what they did that day. Hopefully, spending more attention on their personal lives will discourage them from sneaking off or running away. After all, it’s hard to take off when their parents or legal guardians are paying close attention to them.

Using Alcohol or Drugs

For most teenagers, running away is one of the last options, which takes time for them to consider. If you consistently lose authority over your teen, this may encourage them to make unwise choices, such as doing drugs and/or drinking. It’s recommended that you establish clear rules about alcohol and drug use, so they are aware of the rules and the consequences of indulging in these activities. 

Instead of immediately scolding them for breaking the rules, it’s more effective to hold off. Take the time to ask how you can help them address their problems at home and with drugs or alcohol. This shows teens that you care about their health and well-being and are always there to support them no matter what. Not surprising, a lot of teens run away because they do not feel like their family will support them with their personal issues.

Staying At Friends’ Houses More Often

Have you noticed that your teenager spends more time at their friends’ house? While it may be harmless, it could be that your teen views their friends’ house as a more desirable place to be regarding their home environment and rules. If this continues, your teen’s friend may convince them that your home is not a good place to be, so they should leave.

Instead of preventing your teen from seeing their friends, the better option is to find ways to make your home a more comfortable, inviting place for your teen and their friends to be. Start a conversation with your teenager to find out what they would like to see changed at home. It may not be realistic to agree to all their requests, it does give you a chance to have an honest conversation and make some compromises for both parties. Your teenager will appreciate you trying to help them feel more comfortable at home, which can help reduce the likelihood of them running away.

Not Socializing at Home

When a teen is contemplating leaving home, they typically do not tell other family members about their plan. Indeed, you will likely notice that they are not socializing as much and are keeping to themselves more often. While it may be tempting to demand that they confess about their plans, this can lead them to be more likely to want to leave.

The best approach is to engage in more conversation with your teen. You can talk about their school, friends, and other light subjects that don’t involve their potential escape plan. By talking with them, this shows your teen that you value their opinions and care about them. Teenagers will be far less likely to hit the road if they feel like someone at home cares about them and doesn’t want them to leave. 

We hope this week’s article was helpful, which discussed some common signs of runaway teens and tips to prevent this from becoming a reality in your home. If you are in need of an expert private investigator, contact PATRIOT Backgrounds and Investigations in Davie, Florida today.