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Is housing a runaway illegal?

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  • Is housing a runaway illegal?

    I am asking this question as the person looking to house a friend, I am a minor same as who I wish to help, but if my friend were to escape their abusive household would my parents be doing something illegal by housing and looking after my friend post them running away?

  • #2
    (If you or your friend is in danger for any reason, please call the police or go to your local emergency room.)

    Hi there,

    Thanks so much for reaching out to us. You ask a really great question about the legality of helping a friend, and we are so glad to hear that you are willing to help a friend in need. Thank you!

    Here's what you need to know about letting a minor friend stay with you:

    If your friend leaves home without their parents' permission, their parents could file a runaway report with the police which means the police will find them and bring them home. Running away isn't a crime or anything like that and they can't get arrested. However, if this happens, anyone in your home over age 18 could be charged with harboring a runaway, which is a criminal charge. This is uncommon and varies by state and situation. We can help you find the law in your state, and we'd encourage you to check with local police to see how they'd handle this case. The way to for sure avoid charges is to call the police within 24 hours of your friend's arrival at your house to let them know that your friend is safe with you. This does not guarantee that your friend will not be brought back home, which is why we recommend asking the police first.

    If your friend is being abused at home, you can share this with the police for help getting an abuse report filed. We can also help your friend with this process or even share more about what it might look like.

    If your house is no longer an option and your friend needs a place to go, please have them reach out to us. The NRS is available 24/7 via online chat or by calling 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929). We're here even if you just need to talk. We hope to hear from you soon, best of luck!
    -NRS Crisis Team
    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!


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