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  • Runaway at 17

    I'm 17 years old and my parents do not like my boyfriend, what-so-ever. They recently told me to leave if I wanted to continue seeing him so that is exactly what I did. I've spent the past 2 weeks at friends and familys houses until today, they called the police and filed me as missing which was responded to by the police picking me up and escorting me back home. I understand that I am a minor and that I have to live with my parents because of this but I have some special circumstances that I don't if it would change anything. One, my mom has physically harmed me on more than one occasion. Two, my dad is consistently drunk. Three, I am constantly being screamed out and blamed for absolutely everything and do not feel emotionally stable or safe at home. Is there any way that I could get another legal guardian or emancipated? I'm not sure if you will know the answer but I'm just desperate to find out a little bit more. Thank you.

  • #2
    RE: Runaway at 17

    Hello,

    Thank you for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline and sharing with us some of what has been going on. We are so sorry to hear that you are being mistreated by your parents and that you feel that you are not in a safe environment. No one deserves to be harmed by the ones that are supposed to love and protect them. It is great that you reached out in trying to figure out what to do and what is the best thing for you.

    We are so sorry to hear that your mom has physically harmed you more than once. No one deserves to be in that situation. Your parents being the adults and your legal guardians, you being a minor, they are supposed to protect you and keep you from being harmed. If you feel they are not doing that, then you as the minor have the option to file an abuse report with your state child protective services. It sounds like your parents constantly put you in harmful situations, when your mom hurts you and your dad gets drunk. You can make a report by calling your local police, Child Help USA at 1800-422-4453, or even our hotline. We can make the report with you or for you, it is whatever you feel comfortable with.

    It must be really hard for you for your dad to be consistently drunk. We can only imagine how that is affecting you. We would like to offer Families Anonymous at 1800-736-9805. This is a place you can turn to and get the extra support that you need while dealing with your dad and the issues that may come from his drinking.

    We are not legal experts, but we can speak in general terms on what could happen if you decide to leave home without your parental permission. Generally, the age of an adult is 18, if you were to leave home before that then your parents would be able to file a runaway report with the police. Running away is not a criminal offense, it is a status offense. This means that it is not illegal, you just cannot do it because of your age (being a minor). If you are found, then you will most likely be brought back home with no charges on you. However, if you were found at a friend’s house or family members, they could be charged with harboring a runaway and the severity of that changes in each state. One option you have is to call your local police and ask them what the charges are for harboring a runaway. If you decide to do this, we recommend that you do not give any personal information and ask generally what could happen if a minor was to leave home. If you were to call our hotline we would also be able to make that outgoing call for you and ask the questions that you would like.

    However you also mentioned that you are 17 and that can be a tricky age. Some departments will force you to return home, which it sounds like they have done in the past. However it also depends on the situation, we are unsure if you mentioned how your home life was to the officers, but that might make a difference. Essentially an abuse report and the runaway report are official documents. If you made an abuse report before you left home, the officers may not let your parents make a runaway report or they may do an investigation. The outcomes are unknown from making an abuse report, one possible outcome could be that the officer will not force you to return home but that you are allowed to stay with family members, while others may involve DCFS. It is hard to say because we are not legal experts and because you are 17, which is close to 18.

    You also asked about emancipation. If it is available in your state that is an option that you have. Generally emancipation takes about 6 months and can cost a lot of money. Also, generally, you would have to prove that you are able to provide for yourself and are doing what a 17 year old should be doing-whether that is going to school or going to work. You parents had told you to leave the house before if you were going to continue seeing your boyfriend. Another option that you have is to get them to willingly sign over their legal rights to a family member or friend. If you were to call us we would be able to provide you with legal aid that might be able to give you more direct information.

    We hoped this helped and if you wanted to discuss your situation in greater detail you can always call us on our hotline or chat with us on our email. We look forward to hearing from you and we wish you the best of luck.

    NRS
    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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