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Is it illegal to runaway when you're 14? what can happen?

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  • I am 14 years old and I lived in Omaha Nebraska till today I moved states to Arkansas with my mom and sister. Me and my sister didn’t want this because we have nothing over here and we had a future over there in Omaha. My sister is 17. We have family and close friends that were willing to take us in but my mom just wanted to move and forced us to. Me and my sister have been depressed and sad because were leaving so much behind. I need help what can I do? I want to go back where I grew up and me and my sister want to run away back to Omaha.


    • ccsmod0
      ccsmod0 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 with your mom and the move. It seems there is a lot that you are faced with right now and you’re feeling like leaving is one of your only options. It seems 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, your parent/guardian may file 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.
      The easiest way to leave home is with your parents' 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 parents. The second way is through Child Protective Services if safety is a concern. 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.
      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). If you would like to look into further emotional support options, you can text with a crisis worker at the National Alliance on Mental Illness 24/7 by texting "NAMI" to 741741.
      If you are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately.
      Be safe,

  • my mom recently drug tested me and i came back positive. my family has a history of marijuana use and most of my older cousins use the substance. they offered me some and i said yes because they said it could help with my anxiety. my mom is super extremely mad at me but we have family staying over right now so she isn’t saying anything. she has kicked me out before because my therapist talked to her about how i can’t ever sleep and she just blew up on me. she’s extremely verbally abusive and manipulative as well. i want to runaway because i’m sure she’s gonna beat me and kick me out. i do not want to deal with any of this. my parents also recently got divorced and i no longer talk to my father but my mom tells me about all of her problems she has in her life and she expects me to be in a perfect mood with everyone at all times after she tells me all about how bad of a person my dad is and how she can’t pay bills. i understand her and i like that she tells me things huh i never know what to expect from her. she’s treating me super well one second and the next second she’s blowing up on me calling me a disappointment and many other things. not to mention that i try my best to not let my younger sibling suffer through listening to my parents argue amd their manipulation. i truly am tired amd she’s gonna kick me out and get the police involved because of my drug use. i told her that i had only done it once so she wouldn’t get as mad. please keep in mind that i am not addicted to marijuana it is just something that helps with my anxiety. i don’t smoke at all seconds of the day and i don’t smoke smoke everyday either. i only do it when my anxiety is super bad and i’m gonna have an anxiety attack. one of my cousins wants me to let her come with me but im not sure if it is smart. she hasn’t done anything wrong and her mom does not deserve to worry about her. she also smokes but rarely. she said she wants to go with me because she is in a similar situation but her mom did not drug test her. i really need advise on what to do. i want to runaway because i want my mom to see what it would be like without me because i do so much in the youse and it seems like no one in the family cares and they only care about my mistakes. please help me by giving me advise


    • ccsmod15
      ccsmod15 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for reaching out to us at the National Runaway Safeline. We are so sorry to hear you are in this tough situation, and we hope to help in the best way we can.
      It sounds like you are enduring some serious emotional abuse at home, and feel in danger of physical abuse by Mom after your other family members leave. We want you to know that you do not deserve to be treated like this. You should be safe and comfortable at home, and it does not sound like this is the case. You can always report what is going on at home by contacting Child Protective Services in your area. We can help you locate this number if you call us (1800-RUN-AWAY) or instant message us ( If you have questions or concerns about abuse reporting, we encourage you to reach out to Child Help at 1-800-422-4453. If you find yourself in immediate danger of abuse or neglect (Mom kicking you out), you can always call 911.
      It sounds like you really want to leave your home, and like your cousin might come with you. It is important you know that if you leave the home without parental consent, and without an active abuse report, you are liable to be brought back home by police, if you Mom decides to report you as a runaway. It is not illegal to run away, but the police will make a good effort to find you if they are called.
      You are incredibly brave to have reached out to us. You might find it helpful during this tough time to enlist the support of the family members that are staying with you. Perhaps they can advocate on your behalf and ensure Mom does not hurt you. Or they can request to be able to safely keep you for some time so that you are protected from Mom’s volatile behaviors. You should never have to endure any kind of abuse, physical or emotional.
      We hope you found some of this information useful. If you need something more, please call us. We are here to listen, here to help.
      Stay safe and stay strong out there.

  • Hi, I’m in a bit of a predicament. I’m 13 turning 14 in 3 weeks and my dad had died when I had just turned 8 years old. Ever since then my mom has been a wreck which I understood considering the loss of my father. They were married and they were really happy together until he was diagnosed with a lung disease that killed him in a time span of 3 years. My mom would start to hit me a lot and picked up her smoking again. She goes through at least one pack of cigarettes everyday, and spends a lot of money on it (which we don’t have and are currently struggling due to financial problems). I have told a close friend about it and have been close to running away a numerous amount of times. He always says that I can run to his house and I can talk with his family and then after blowing off steam his parents would take me home to settle things with my mother. About 3 hasta since my dad died she had started dating this guy named Miguel who is still currently with us now. He’s always protected me all the time and stood up for me when my mom would call me names saying that she hated me and she would call me a **********. One day I did something which was completely dumb and I take full responsibility for my actions, but I pretended to drink and recorded it and posted it on Snapchat. One of my classmates viewed the video I uploaded and had contacted administration about it. Afterwards my mom was also contacted. Shortly after, she picked me up from my friends house because I would go home with her and her mom because her job was far from my school and had to have someone pick me up. After she picked me up she started screaming which I expected because of what I did. She grabbed my hair and slammed it against the car. I’m not sure what the word for this specific part is, but it is the stick in the front seat where you are able to move the car from reverse, park, neutral, and drive. She was banging my head against it with the windows down calling me the b word saying she hated me. We came across a red light and she stopped then grabbed my hair harder and slammed it harder against that stick. I had a headache for 4 days. Someone saw and heard her saying those things so someone called the cops as other people just started and I could see in their eyes they felt bad but they still continued to drive. This man who stopped my mom and got out his car was arguing with her because he was watching what she was doing to me since we had stopped at the red light. He threatened to call the cops and she said screamed and I quote “Go ahead I don’t fing care!” After I got home about 5-10 minutes later the cops rang the doorbell and I told the officer what she had done and I also said that the cause of it was my fault but she blew it out of proportion. The cop had left after asking for our names. Ever since then it’s been getting worse. She calles me names slams my doors forces me to eat when I end up throwing it up because I am so angry I couldn’t even swallow the food. She had left me home alone today for about 45 minutes and I do online school due to the pandemic. I’m showering so I am unable to hear her so she starts banging on my door and I start crying and screaming thinking someone her entered the house and then I heard her voice so I immediately knew it was her but I was still shaking because I was terrified. At the time, it was 1:18pm and I have to be back to my computer at 1:30. I was hurrying up and 5 minutes later my mom was screaming at me to get back banging my doors and had her fist over me screaming at the top of her lungs telling me my room was a mess and so was my bathroom. That is literally the reason WHY she was screaming. That stupid reason. In my school I get about 10-15 assignments daily and she knows that because I show her my assignments. I never have time on the weekdays or weekends because we also get homework and classwork on the weekends as well. (Which she also knows). I am also failing school with 2 F’s in Math and Science. For the past week I have been trying my absolute hardest (and I always have) to bring up those grades. I wake up at 7am and don’t go to sleep until 1 or 2am doing homework for that day and missing assignments at the same time. I’m always in a rush and I suffer from severe anxiety and depression because of what happened to me as a child, what happens at school (because of bullying), and what’s going on now. Not only do I have that but I haha a lot of family problems and loved ones getting sick and dying every 1-2 months. Every single day I stay in this house it gets worse and I feel like the walls are caving in on me. I feel so sad and angry in my own house. If I take naps she has a problem with it but if I don’t sleep it’s the phones fault. My phone and my friends are the only thing helping me right now. They understand me, and when she finds out I tell people she takes my electronics away from me. She’s on a new medication that helps with her addiction to smoking and she uses it as a excuse for her actions and why she’s mad all the time when even when she wasn’t on it she was still like this. I have nobody I feel so alone and sad 24/7 I cry myself to sleep most nights wishing things would change in my house. I want to have a good relationship with my mother like I used to but she doesn’t meet me half way. I try so hard in school and at home but it’s never good enough for her. She always says it is, but then never appreciates the good things I do.


    • ccsmod13
      ccsmod13 commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi, thank you for posting here on the National Runaway Safeline Forum. You are brave for reaching out to talk about everything that you have been going through. I want to remind you that you are not alone and that you matter. It must have been difficult losing your dad and your other family members, but you are strong for continuing to persevere through these losses and everything else that has happened.

      Everyone copes with loss and stress in their own way, including doing things like smoking. Although you may wish that your mother would quit smoking, you cannot control what she chooses to do. However, there is no excuse for her take out any of her anger or frustration on you. You never deserve to be hit or called names. These things are abusive and are not acceptable. One thing that you may want to consider is filing an abuse report about what has been happening. A resource that could help you with this is Childhelp. They can provide you with information about abuse reporting and can support you through the process if you choose to file a report. You can call their hotline at (800) 422-4453 or go to their website at

      You mentioned the possibility of running away to go to your friend’s house for a little bit before returning home. Something you may want to think about is how your mom will react to you leaving. Although we aren’t legal experts, running away before you are legally considered an adult is a status offense. This means that while it is not allowed, you would not be charged with committing a crime. If you choose to runway, your mom has the option to file a runaway report. This means that if the police find you, they could take you back home. They could also potentially charge your friend’s parents with harboring a runaway if you choose to go and stay with them.

      It’s good that you have friends that you can trust. Having supportive people around can be a good resource to help you cope with what is happening. It sounds like there is a lot going on at school, both with your grades and with other students bullying you. You show a lot of determination in continuing to work hard to get good grades even when you are struggling with other things in your life. One option that you have available to you is to reach out to an adult at your school that you trust. This could be a teacher, a counselor, a coach, or another person that you would be comfortable talking to. You could talk to them about what you are struggling with, including your grades and the bullying that you are experiencing. You also have the option to talk to them about how things at home have been going and how you are doing mentally. They will be able to provide you with additional support and guidance. You said that you are struggling with depression and anxiety. If you contact our hotline directly, we would be happy to look into counseling resources in your area who you could talk to about how you have been feeling. You could also reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness to talk about how you have been feeling and to find more resources to help you cope. Their hotline is 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) and their website is

      You are strong for reaching out to seek support. If you would like to chat more about your situation, you can contact us 24/7 at our number 1-800-786-2929 or through our live chat under the “Chat” tab on our website Stay safe.
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