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will i be in trouble if i run away at 18?

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  • will i be in trouble if i run away at 18?

    Hi im 17 & goin to turn 18 next month & i want to go live with my boyfriend who i been with for 2 years already. My family knows him also. But i just cant stay at home anymore i need my own privacy & my mom has keepen me from seeing him for a few months now. I just want to have some freedom & see how it goes. I know im safe with him. But i want to know what can she do if i do go with him once im 18. She dont know anything about me leaving though & im planning to keep it like that until she finds out i left home already. May i have some advice ? Thank you

  • #2
    RE: will i be in trouble if i run away at 18?

    Hi there,

    Thank you for reaching out to us here at the National Runaway Safeline. It sounds like you have been having a difficult time lately with everything that’s been going on at home and we are sorry to hear that. We’re here to help the best that we can.

    It sounds like you and your boyfriend have been together for a while now, and you want to stay with him when you turn 18 which is coming up pretty quick. We are not legal experts here, but generally speaking if you leave before the age of 18, your legal guardians would have the right to make a runaway report. If a report is made, and the police find you they would just bring you back home. However, anyone that you stay with could then potentially be charged for harboring a runaway. It sounds like you would be waiting until you are 18 years old, and in most states that is the legal age of an adult, meaning you are legally responsible for yourself and deciding where you live. One way to be absolutely sure of this is to call your local police department and just verify the age of minority in your state.

    It sounds like your mom has not been wanting you to see your boyfriend, and that has got to be tough. Are you completely financially independent? Sometimes, it can be challenging to move out at 18 if you are not entirely ready to support yourself, although it is legal in most states at this age. Do you have ideas of what you would do if anything unfortunate happened in your relationship with your boyfriend that would cause you to have to move out of his place? These are just things that could possibly be helpful to think through in making your decision.

    We’re really glad that you contacted us, and we hope that this has been helpful to you. Please do call or chat with us if you would like to talk further, we’re here to support you.

    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 am 18 years old i am still in high school i am planning to run away but i have no money.


      • ccsmod7
        ccsmod7 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there, thanks for reaching out. Sounds like you are wanting to run away from home at 18 but you do not have any money.

        Just so you know, it is usually legal for you to move out at 18. However, it can be unsafe to leave out without funds and and a plan for where you would go and how you would survive. If you call or chat us (1-800-RUNAWAY;, we can look to see what resources are in your area. For youth, 18-21, sometimes there are resources called transitional living programs or longer stay shelters to help older youth get on their feet and work on their individual goals. We would be happy to see what resources are in or around your area. If you haven't already, you might reach out to any supports such as friends or extended family to see if you can stay with them if you do move. You might also think about income and try to secure a job to help you be able to support your own basic needs.

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



    • #4
      I'm james B*****. I'm 18. If I decide to run from home though I havent graduated from high school will I get in trouble? I'm done listening to my moms lectures. My 32 year old sister thinks she has power of authority over me and my brother in my moms home. Ive seriously been thinking about leaving. I have a disability that prevents me from walking jogging and running certain distances. I know a friend that lives in Essex but Idk where his house is. I have no other place to go. I have a feeling my sister wont accept me into her home neither. I'm legally not supposed to be around my biological family due to child abuse and negligence. I need help in making a decision. My mother threatens to call the cops if i leave to come pick me up but I know it doesnt work that way.
      Last edited by ccsmod15; 03-10-2021, 09:36 PM.


      • ccsmod15
        ccsmod15 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hello James,

        Thank you for reaching out to us. We are so sorry that things at home with your mom have been so problematic. It sounds like you are considering leaving home, and you would like more information on whether this is a possibility. We cannot tell you what to do, but we can do our best to share information that might help you figure out your next steps.

        We are not legal experts, but from what we understand, 18 is generally the year that minors are allowed to leave home. Because the laws can vary so much from state to state, you may need to speak with someone familiar with the laws in your state to find out whether the fact that you are still a high school student affects whether you can leave. If your legal guardian can report you as a runaway, 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.

        Whatever you decide, know that we are here to support you. Although we cannot tell you what to do, we will do our best to help you stay as safe as possible as you figure out what is best for you. We can best help by phone or chat. 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). We are here to listen, here to help. Stay safe!


    • #5
      if i move out at 18, change my name and everything. and leave the state without my parents knowing, will that be considered as running away? and if so, can my parents file a missing person report? i dont know how to leave them without them knowing.


      • ccsmod13
        ccsmod13 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there,

        Thank you for contacting us here at NRS. It sounds like you have a plan to leave and you may be worried about how your parents will respond. While we are not legal experts, we can speak generally on laws that affect youth in crisis. In most states, 18 is the age you are considered a legal adult and have the legal freedom to choose where you live. This means you can leave home without your parents being able to force you back and you would not be considered a runaway. Your parents may still be able to make a missing persons report with police; however, you can request that this report is unlisted and police would not be able to force you to return home. There are only a few states where this is not the case because of higher ages of majority (legal adult status): Alabama and Nebraska(19) and Mississippi(21). If you have any concerns about your parents attempting to prevent you from leaving or harming you, you can reach out to the police for assistance. If you would like to ask questions about your situation you can call the non-emergency line for your local police department.

        We are available 24/7 for immediate support if you need to talk more. 1-800-RUNAWAY;

        Be safe,

    • #6
      Hi I want to run away whit my cousin we are 14 years old and we need freedom i hate my mom she is always strict and never gives me freedom how can we run away and don't get caught i know we are young but we know what we want to, and we dont want to be found by police so what do we need to do


      • ccsmod10
        ccsmod10 commented
        Editing a comment
        It sounds like your mom has made you feel unhappy while you're at home; that can feel really frustrating, annoying, or become exhausting over a long period of time. Running away permanently at 14 can be difficult, but we can discuss your options. We do not have a magic solution for you to leave and not be caught or return home; most runaway shelters will contact a parent or police before they allow you to stay. You could contact friends and family to see if one would allow you to stay there. Whatever you decide, it can be beneficial to consider where you will go, how you will get there, how you will support yourself, and what you will do in case of an emergency, before you leave. We can talk more about your options if you text chat us at or call us at 1-800-786-2929.

    • #7

      I’m turning 18 next year in March, and I've been planning to leave for the last 4 years now. My plan is to apply to another school where I can continue with my chosen career choice and live with my boyfriend and as well with some other friends to help financially. I fear my family may try to look for me. They know I wanna run away and live with my boyfriend. They're very against me for being transgender (FTM) and are against my boyfriend (who is also FTM) and have used religion against me for so long. They’re been abusive and manipulative to me for so long and because of that, Ive struggled with self harm and suicidal tendencies that i see a therapist and take medication by law. I know for a fact once I leave I'll be better as they hold me back from my true potential, and true happiness. But it’s the guilt of leaving and doing them wrong is what's holding me back from setting this plan into stone. I also fear they'll file a missing person report and try to press legal charges on my boyfriend and I. I've been doing years of research on this but I still have doubts in mind. Am I in the right?


      • ccsmod5
        ccsmod5 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hey there,
        Thank you for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline. We are glad that you are reaching out for help—that takes a lot of bravery. It sounds like you are going through an extremely difficult time right now with life at home/ We are sorry to hear that home isn’t a place where you feel supported and loved unconditionally—no matter your identity. You are very brave and we are here to help support you and answer your questions as best we can.

        You ask very good questions. Although we are not legal experts here at NRS, we can do our best to offer some suggestions about your question of leaving home before turning 18 years old. If you go to stay at your boyfriend’s house without parental permission for over 24 hours (the exact timing depends on which state you live in), you parents could potentially file against your boyfriend’s parents with something called “harboring a runaway.” This is a legal term for kidnapping. Might sound extreme, we understand, but that is something we wanted to share so you have as much information as possible.

        If your parents don’t know your boyfriend and do not know where to look, they could also file a missing child report to their local police department, like you mentioned. Law enforcement will collect basic information about you that will go into a national database, and they can then return you home in the event you are found. Because you turn 18 years old rather soon, some law enforcement may not invest as much time in attempting to find you compared to a younger youth. Again, this is truly all depends on your city and state and how involved your parents are. You also mentioned wanting to be emancipated, but often that process will take longer than the number of months until you turn 18 years old. Again, we’re not legal experts. One idea to consider is anonymously calling out to your local law enforcement to inquire about how they may handle a runaway youth that is 17 years old. You could call into us here at NRS or have a friend call out if you do not wish to call on your own.

        All that being said, you have your own free will. Some other options worth mentioning are temporary living arrangements that are housing shelters were youth can stay for up to 1-3 months. Because you are 17 years old (and almost 18 years old in a few months), you may be able to stay there without parental permission. It sounds like you are doing your best to inform your parents of where you reside and of your safety, but a temporary living arrangement could be an option in the event that they refuse for you to stay at your boyfriend’s home.
        We’re sure you have already thought all this out, but if you ever feel unsafe, you can text the word “safe” to 4HELP (44357) to receive a message of the closet Safe Place to go. We also care about your mental wellbeing. If you ever want to reach out to a group of like-minded members of the LGBTQ community, perhaps reach out to The Trevor Project at (866) 488-7386 or

        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 forum 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 are at risk of any danger or feeling unsafe, we encourage you to reach out to 911 or seek emergency assistance immediately.
        Be safe,

    • #8
      Hi so I am 19 years old and I live in Mississippi I am planning on running away very soon I can't take all of the stress and bull******** my family has put on me my question is can my father force me to come back when I leave even though he don't know where I will be. He's very mentally and verbally abusive he gives me no privacy and is always going through my phone


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