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17 1/2 years old, contemplating running away. questions about crossing borders?

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  • 17 1/2 years old, contemplating running away. questions about crossing borders?

    Ok so my question is would a runaway be able to avoid being caught if the managed to cross the border? Either into canada or mexico? I know the border patrols can be tough, but I have cousins in Canada who are willing to help me and I really want to take them up on their offer. I was curious as to what information you guys had regarding runaways crossing the border and whether or not local police really could do anything about it. Thanks

  • #2
    Thank you for contacting the National Runaway Switchboard and asking us this question. Unfortunately, we aren’t legally trained so we can’t tell you what would happen if you were to cross the border. It sounds like you want to go to some cousins in Canada and it’s good that you have a support system that is able to help you out.

    It sounds like you want to leave home and go to your cousins. Would you be able to tell us more about this like what is going on at home? If you were to leave and your parent/legal guardian filed a report, then if the police were to locate you, they may contact your legal guardian to let them know. Again, we aren’t able to tell you what would happen if you were to cross the border into Canada. The local police may be able to explain to you what the laws are or what may happen if you crossed the border.

    If you have any other questions or would like to explore other options, please give us a call. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our online chat from 4:30 PM-11:30 PM (CST), 7 days a week. You can access our chat through our website at

    We look forward to hearing from you and wish you the best of 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
      I want to run away because my parents abuse me in every way and im sick of their crap I want to go to canada because my bff said that she would help and my mom she she wouldnt give a damn if i left so she cant get mad or upset about me leaving and I have my passport I just dont know when to leave....


      • ccsmod0
        ccsmod0 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there,

        You mentioned wanting to know how you can leave home before turning 18. The easiest way to leave home is with your mom's permission. We understand that might be challenging, however, maybe there’s another family member, relative, or a family friend who could help to communicate how you’re feeling to your mom. The second way is through Child Protective Services if safety is a concern. You mentioned abuse, so maybe that would be a route you might want to explore. Lastly, you can also look into emancipation options. In most states you need to be at least 16 to be considered and demonstrate that you can support yourself financially and independently. Emancipation often can be a lengthy process and may even cost some money for court fees. We would be happy to look into legal resources if that’s something you are considering. Crossing international borders may pose and issue. We are not experts on international law. You may want to reach out to an attorney or the border police. Another thing to keep in mind is that your friend who is trying to help you could be charged with harboring a runaway, and there could be serious legal consequences for helping you cross the border.

        Please reach out soon so that we may offer support and resources to you. Our number is 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929).

        Be safe,


    • #4
      Im 12 and Im sick of my parents stuff they ignore me all the time and I get abused in every way Im trying to babysit mow the lawn for others or clean other people's houses to earn some money to take a plane to canada so would that be illegal?


      • ccsmod2
        ccsmod2 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you for contacting us here at the National Runaway Safeline. We’re sorry to hear that you’re dealing with such a difficult situation at home. It sounds like you’re experiencing abuse, and we hope you know that you do not deserve to be treated this way. You really deserve to feel safe and cared for in your own home. If you are interested in reporting the abuse you can call us, and we can help and support you. Our number is 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929); we’re available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. You could reach out to Child Help, the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. You can also tell a trusted adult like a teacher or relative. If you fear for your immediate safety you can call 911 as well.
        You ask about running away. As you may know, the age of majority (that’s when you can legally leave home without your parents’ permission), in most states, is 18. Since you say you’re 12, this would not be a legal option. But if you want to give us a call we can help you talk through your situation and look for solutions to your problems together. We can also find resources in your area; these might be helpful as well. We will also talk with you about ways to stay safe, wherever you are. Your safety is very important to us.
        Please give us a call. We hope to hear from you soon.
        Take care,

    • #5
      I asked my mom if I could leave and said "leave I don't care" so would it be illegal if I left and went to canada?


      • ccsmod6
        ccsmod6 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi, thank you for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline. It sounds like you are going through a tough time and having difficulties with your mother and that’s causing you to contemplate running away to Canada. When contemplating running away it is very important to consider your plan, how you will get to your destination, where you will stay once you arrive and how you will survive. It is also very important to discuss these plans when you are planning on crossing borders. It is also important to consider that your mother can potentially file a runaway report with the police and your mother will be notified and you will likely be returned home should you encounter the police.
        If you want to discuss your plan, elicit more options or find additional resources, feel free to call in to 1-800-RUNAWAY or chat us at to speak with someone in real time.

    • #6
      My mom treats me like trash she's an internet addict and I asked if I could leave and she said "yes, leave I don't care leave" so would it be illegal if I saved up money to take a plane to canada and stay there? I mean, I know where I'm gonna stay but I don't know exactly when to leave. (And it would be very dumb if she filed a runaway report because she basically gave me her consent/permission to leave. I'm only 12 I have anxietic issues and I have severe depression for the way shes treating me ever since I was old enough to actually know what was going on. I was never happy because I never got live a normal life like my friends do. I'm always getting abuse in every way. but if you do have some advice for me to follow then that would be great I hope I have a better future. Sincerely yours, Jamia.


      • ccsmod4
        ccsmod4 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. You don't deserve to be abused in any way. It is not your fault.
        You have the right to want to be treated fairly. You do not deserve to be abused by her and it is not your fault that she does this.

        As of right now you’re feeling like leaving is an option because she said for you to go.
        But before you do anything it sounds like 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. If you are under 18 and leave home even though she told you to. Your mother could always report you as a runaway and you may be returned home. Also, those you stay with may run the risk of being charged with harboring a runaway.

        For more specifics on the law, the local non-emergency police or legal aid may better answer legal questions.
        If you are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately. To report any abuse contact Child Help at:1-800-422-4453. You may also consider talking with a teacher, counselor or social worker at school to report abuse.

        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).
        Be safe,

      • ccsmod7
        ccsmod7 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there, thanks for reaching out today. Sounds like you you are frustrated with your mom and struggling with your mental health. You also mentioned being talked down to and abused. No one deserves to be treated like that. Here at NRS, we truly want to be a support for you during this difficult time.

        It sounds like you’re quite overwhelmed by things at home right now and you mentioned being harmed. We’re sorry you’re going through this. You don't deserve to be hurt in any way. If you are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately. You may also be able to report any mistreatment to CPS. Child Help USA 1-800-422-4453 is an organization that helps protect minors from being harmed. They can tell you more about how CPS could respond to your situation. If you ever need assistance calling out to CPS to make an abuse or neglect report please call is at 1-800-RUNAWAY.

        It sounds like your mom has given you permission to leave. If you haven't already, you might try to ask friends and family if you can stay with them, and to have them confirm it with your mom. The easiest way you can leave home is with permission to stay somewhere safe. However, if your mom said those hurtful things about you leaving in the moment, and goes back on her permission, she is allowed to do that.

        Please do not hesitate to call or chat us if you would like to talk more about your situation. We are always here for you.




    • #7
      Hi I'm Luisa Diaz Castro and I'm 12, and my mom is very rude and abusive in every way she's been treating me like this since I was 5 and I don't like it so would it be illegal if I ran away and went to an adoption center because so basically she's been hiding things that the police should've known and me and my sibling have to keep our mouths shut and I'm sick of living like this. If I do run away I will plan where I'm going to go and stay If my mother even thinks about making a runaway report this is letter I will leave her "Dear Mom, I left because I'm a disappointment to you and I messed up all my chances of having your trust and I never trusted you If you try to make me come back you'll be in serious danger for the things you have been hiding all these years and you told me to leave so that's what I did. I feel like a prison where I'm living, the place you made me live in never felt like home I never wanted to be under your roof in the first place don't make me come back or else your in danger. -Luisa"


      • #8
        I have a 16 1/2 year old that's trying to travel with a friend and her dad or uncle. She is planning to get a passport. She asked for her personal information. What would happen if she is reported missing in the United states and crosses the border?


        • ccsmod11
          ccsmod11 commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks so much for reaching out to us about this. It sounds like you have a child who is attempting to runaway from you and travel internationally. We aren't experts on this so we'll speak generally, however typically if a minor is reported as a runaway within the United States, if they attempt to board an international flight or cross a border they will be flagged by border control as a runaway. At this point the police would get involved to return the youth home to you or whoever has custody.

          However it's important to note that if her dad or uncle has custody, then she would be allowed to travel with them with her permission. If you split custody with her dad or uncle, we aren't quite sure what the rules might look like. If this is the case we encourage you to reach out to your local law professionals for advice.

          We would love to give you more personalized and confidential help. Please feel free to reach out to us directly any time to talk to a real person. The NRS is here 24/7 via online chat or by calling 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929).

          Good luck!
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