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I am 13. Is it illegal to run away in Florida?

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  • I am 13. Is it illegal to run away in Florida?

    I am a 13 year old living in a residence in Florida. I am not under any physical or sexual abuse, however, I am under verbal abuse. My parent had called me a idiot/retard and more insulting terms. I just dealt with it, but yet it very much harmed my self-esteem. I also am having social problems at school, such as trouble making friends, not fitting in, etc. I have though quite an awful lot about running away. I planned it out, but not everything goes according to plan. I am only 13 years old, and I cannot rent a motel room unless I am at least 16. Apparently, that law is in place so that motels won’t have to deal with any liability risks, or be responsible for the minor’s actions. But moreover I just want to run away so I don’t have to deal with this anymore. I have not committed any self-harm or attempted suicide. Please help, thank you.

  • #2
    Hello there,

    Thank you for reaching out to NRS and having the strength to share your story with us. We are sorry to hear about your situation and what you’ve been dealing with. Ideally, home would be a place where people feel safe, loved, and valued, and you do not deserve to be treated that way by your parents or anyone else. You’ve been very courageous to reach out for help and try your best despite the circumstances.

    Although NRS is not a legal agency, we can try to give a general idea of possible outcomes if you were to run away. As you are considered a minor in your state, you are still under your parents’ guardianship, therefore at any point when you are gone, they are legally within their rights to file a runaway report. Being a runaway is a status offense, and while you would not be charged with a crime, if police came across you, they would probably return you home. Guardians could also potentially press charges against people who took you into their care for “harboring a runaway;” these charges would be misdemeanors, but still criminal offenses.

    In regards to your plan, we would encourage you to consider guardianship, school enrollment, how you would take care of your needs (eating, sleeping, healthcare), and how you would care for your safety if something were to happen. If you were interested, we also offer conference-calling as an option, where we would mediate a constructive conversation between your parents and yourself in order to reach an understanding.

    You also mentioned some instances of verbal abuse. We understand that trauma can be difficult to work through and that reporting may not be an option you are comfortable with. However, you do deserve to live in a safe place free from abuse, and if you wanted to talk more about child abuse reporting or wanted support, Child Help (National Child Abuse Hotline) could be a resource for learning what reporting would look like. They are accessible by phone at 1-800-422-4453 and online at childhelp.org.

    We are sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time with school. Some options that may be available to you could be reaching out to school personnel, like counselors, for support. Additionally, if you are able, being engaged in some afterschool activities may be of some use to you to meet like-minded people. You are important and you matter. If you were interested in professional mental health services, a good resource could be the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-877-726-4727 and online at samhsa.gov. Additionally, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a resource with support groups among other services, at 1-800-950-NAMI and online at nami.org.

    If you would like to talk about other resources and support, feel free to call our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or use our Live Chat.
    We hope this information was helpful and take care.
    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)
    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)

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