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Runaway and scare them straight?!

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  • Runaway and scare them straight?!

    My step sister and I are both minors, we are 15 years old. We are considering running away. We don't want it to be a permanent thing. We are very frustrated at home and we are hoping to force our parents to understand us. We wish to leave today and come home tomorrow morning. We live in California and we don't understand all of the laws and rules.
    We are both thinking this over and wanting to be as smart as possible about his situation. That is how we found your Website. We are just worried about a couple of things:

    When we return home, what will happen?
    Can our parents call the police and send them looking for us?
    Will the police come looking for us?
    Can charges be put on my sister and I?
    Is running away illegal?
    If we have a friend pick us up and watch over us for the night is that ”Harboring a runaway”?
    What kind of charges are put on a someone who harbors a runaway?

    Please write back as soon as possible.

  • #2
    RE: Runaway and scare them straight?!

    Thank you for reaching out to us during this difficult time. It sounds like you have a plan to leave to let things cool off at home. Just to let you know, we are not legal experts and do not know what will or will not happen. However, we can try and explain what we know about the runaway laws.

    Technically, it is not against the law to run away from home. In most places its considered a status offence. However, anyone that you would be caught staying with could possibly be charged with ‘harboring a runaway’. This means that if your friend allowed you to stay there without permission from your legal guardians, your parents would have the right to press charges against your friend. The charges vary from state to state. The best way to get the most direct answer would be to contact your local law enforcement and ask anonymously what would happen. You also expressed concern about the police coming to look for you. Although they may not technically arrest you, they can force you to return home.

    However, you do have certain rights as a minor. You have the right to go to school regardless of your living situation. You also have the right to feel safe in your own home. If you do not feel safe at home, this would be something to tell the police if you come in contact with them. You can also call Child Protective Services and explain what is going on at home.

    It sounds like you feel frustrated and unheard at home. Have you tried talking to your legal guardians about how you have been feeling? You mentioned wanting to be as smart as possible about running away. We applaud your decision to do research about running away before leaving. It can be a difficult and frightening process, have you thought about what it might look like after you two return?

    Here at the National Runaway Safeline, we would be more than happy to talk to you about what is going on. We can help you explore options and offer some resources that may be of use to you. We are available for you both 24/7 at 1-800-RUNAWAY(786-2929) or by live chat at from 4:30pm-11:30pm Central Standard Time. We look forward to hearing from you and wish you both 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!


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