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Leaving/Running Away at 17 (almost 18)

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  • Leaving/Running Away at 17 (almost 18)

    I've been unhappy where I'm living for a really long time. I don't even live with my parents, I live with my grandparents but the state think our parents live with us and not 1 hour away. I've been depressed for years and tried to kill myself 2 times last October bc I couldn't take it. I've been emotionally absused for years and it's taken a really bad toll on me. And I thought about trying to kill myself again if it means I can escape this. But I don't want to die. I want to do so many things.

    And lately things at home have been worse than usual. And I just want to runaway. Im 17, turning 18 in less than 2 months. If I leave can my family call the police and force me to come back? And if I went to live with my boyfriend who is only a year older than me(he just turned 19), could they do anything to him? My parents told me that even if I'm 18 I'm not allowed to leave but could I do it anyways if I am 18? Or even now if I wanted to?

    (ps I live in Arizona.)

  • #2
    Re: Leaving/Running Away at 17 (almost 1

    Hello and thanks for reaching out on our bulletin boards. We’re glad you felt comfortable enough to share a bit about what’s going on right now. We’re very sorry to hear how unhappy you’ve been where you’re living. We hope you recognize you don’t deserve to be abused regardless of if it’s physical or emotional. It can be harder unfortunately, but you do have the right to report any abuse regardless of the time. If you decide you’d like to try we can help you with that process and there is also the Arizona Child Abuse Hotline 1-888-SOS-CHILD (1-888-767-2445).

    You also shared how you tried to kill yourself twice last October and that you’ve thought about it since, but don’t want to die. We imagine it took courage to even share that information about yourself. We hope you’ve been able to keep yourself safe since then and please know there is support out there if you begin to feel suicidal again. We’re here of course and there is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as well as NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness for tips on handling depression.

    As far as what might happen if you leave prior to your 18th birthday or even once you turn 18, that will likely depend both on how your parents as well as your local law enforcement reacts. For most intents and purposes, 18 is recognized as the legal age of majority. However, some areas have different guidelines for 18 year-olds still in high school. Hopefully this gives you a start and feel free to call or Live Chat if you prefer to talk online. Good luck!
    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

    Tell us what you think about your experience!


    • #3
      Can a person 2 days before 18th birthday be forced to go on a family vacation? If they want to move out anyway, can they go ahead and move to the safe place without legal issues?


      • ccsmod10
        ccsmod10 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there,

        Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to reach out to us here at the National Runaway Safeline. It seems like there must be a lot going on in your life especially at home if you’re thinking about running away from home. It’s great that you were able to find out some information about our hotline. Hopefully we can help.

        Since you’re a minor, you would need your parents’ permission to move out of the house before turning 18. Like we tell a lot of our callers and/or people that email us, the laws on that specific subject of just leaving home and/or running away vary from state to state. Now we aren’t legal experts, but what generally what typically happens if a minor runs away, is that your parents would be able to make a runaway. You can’t be arrested for running away. In some cases we’ve heard of police not taking runaway reports on youth who are close to turning 18 (like you). Once you turn 18, you’re considered a legal adult and you’d be able to move out of your home.

        Stay safe, NRS

    • #4
      How can I get my things from my parents if they take them and won't return them? And if I move out, how can I safely retrieve my clothing and other items that are mine?


      • ccsmod5
        ccsmod5 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for reaching out again. If you are a legal adult (age 1, you can request police escort as you retrieve your clothing and other items you own. However, if your parents paid for those items they may have the right to keep them from you. If you’re referring to your birth certificate or other vital records, you can also call your local vital records office. Keep in mind that this is all general information since we are not legal experts. To get a clearer answer, you can call your local non-emergency police line.
        Please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-786-2929 if you have further questions.
        Good luck!

    • #5
      If you run away 3 months before your 18th bd can the person helping you get in trouble if they are older


      • ccsmod2
        ccsmod2 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there, thank you for reaching out to us here at NRS. It is very brave to reach out for some help and this a great first step! We are going to talk about a few things and if you want to talk further or brainstorm other ideas, we are here 24/7 over our phone lines (1-800-RUNAWAY) and we also have an online chat system at as well.
        We aren’t legal experts but generally, the age of adulthood is 18 years old which means if you are under that age, your parents/guardians are legally responsible for you and where you live. This means if you do decide to leave home, your parent/guardian can reach out to the non-emergency police to file a runaway report. This means they would call the non-emergency police and file that report, which is a status offense meaning you wouldn’t get arrested but it is just something you are not allowed to do since you are under the general age of majority. If you are found, you will be returned to home, but if you do not feel safe, you can tell the police department and they would involve Child Protective Services to investigate. If you do to someone who is older and stay with them, your parents/guardians may also try to press charges of harboring a runaway, just so you know the risk if you think they might do that. Something else to think about would be if your local police take runaway reports for someone so close to truning 18. Sometimes if you are 3 months away from turning 18. The police may not take or take and not pursue a runaway report since you are so close to being 18. This depends on the police department and sometimes even the officer. If you feel comfortable, you can reach out to your local non-emergency police and ask about if they take or pursue runaway reports for someone 3 months away from being 18. If you can reach out to us again, we can advocate on your behalf and reach out to your local non-emergency police to ask those questions. We are always here to talk more about this and certainly elaborate or clarify as well. If you do decide you need to leave home, we can talk about safety planning and if you are comfortable, what is going on at home.
        We are glad you reached out and we would love to hear from you again if you feel comfortable. We can talk about the information we shared and brainstorm some ideas. Please do not hesitate to reach out again as we are always here for you. Hope to hear from you soon!

        Best, NRS

    • #6
      I’ll be 18 in 3 days and I live in Rhode Island. My mom is very emotionally straining and I fear that if I stay here for much longer my mental health will start deteriorating. I know legally I need to be 18 but can they really arrest me or force me back home if I only have 72 hours before I’m 18?


      • ccsmod7
        ccsmod7 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there, thanks for reaching out today. Sounds like you are in a rough situation at home with your mom that is affecting your mental health and you are not sure if you can make it at home for 3 more days. Nothing is more important than your safety, so we encourage you to always plan around your safety - whether that is strategizing for how you are going to get by for 72 hours or leaving if you are in immediate danger.

        Generally speaking it is up to your local police with whether or not they would accept a runaway report for you so close to you turning 18. It is possible that they would take one but not actively look for you or they could consider you an adult already and not take one. If your local police department strictly follows the law to a T they could take a runaway report for you and then if you are found it is possible they could take you home up until you turn 18. To know how your local police would respond, you might reach out to your local police department's non-emergency number and ask how they would handle the situation. If you would like assistance making that call, please call us at 1-800-RUNAWAY.

        We look forward to hearing from you and we wish you the best,


    • #7
      I’ll be 18 in 4 months and a couple of days can I runaway and stay away and not get the cops called on me?.


      • ccsmod8
        ccsmod8 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hello there -

        Thank you for reaching out to us here on our public forum. We try to help and answer question that you might have. Now after reading through your post, you can see that someone directly above your post has asked a similar question to yours. Please re-read through this thread to see the answers posted already.

        Best of luck to you!

    • #8
      I’m in Gwinnett georgia and I’m about to be 18 in a week and 2 days and I’m wondering if my parents call the cops on me when I run away when I’m 18 like the day of my birthday can the cops do anything if I don’t want to go back home and what can I do to not be home and not get the cops involved


      • ccsmod9
        ccsmod9 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there,
        Thank you for writing to us here at National Runaway Safeline (NRS). We understand it takes great courage to reach out, and we appreciate you sharing a little bit about what’s going on. It seems there is a lot that you are faced with right now and you’re feeling like leaving is one of your only options. It seems you want to know some information on runaway laws.
        While we are not experts on the law, 18 is generally the age that an individual may leave home without parent permission. The minute you turn 18 the police can no longer pursue you as a runaway unless you have broken the law or are under probation
        We are here as support to help through this challenging time. We can best help by phone or chat as NRS is unable to respond more than twice by email to assist you. If you would like to talk more in detail please call or chat soon.
        Our contact information is 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929); (click on the chat button).
        If you are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately.
        Be safe,

    • #9
      If I run away will I be in trouble with the law when I turn 18 with currently being 16


      • ccsmod7
        ccsmod7 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there, thanks for reaching out today.

        We are not legal experts but we can answer your question generally. If you run away at 16, and then turn 18 in a state where 18 is the majority age or age you become a legal adult, you typically would no longer be considered a runaway. Rather you would be considered a legal adult living on your own. At that time, you can typically call local police and let them know that you are no longer a runaway.

        We hope this information helps. Please call or chat us if you would like to talk through your situation.


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