No announcement yet.

running away in Tennessee

  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • running away in Tennessee

    I'm 17 and am wanting to leave my home legally. I will be turning 18 soon and am trying to figure out the details on running away. I know that the legal age of adulthood in Tennessee is 18 years old, but would my parents still be able to report me as missing/a run away? If they did, would the police come after me and force me to come home? As far as filing me as missing, would the police track me down?

    Please get back to me with any information soon. Thanks

  • #2


    Thank you for reaching out to us here at the National Runaway Safeline. There are a lot of things to consider when running away and it’s good that you are trying to be well informed before taking action.

    We are not legal experts, but generally parents can file a runaway report with local police for minors 17 and younger. As far as the police tracking you down once you have runaway, it’s hard to say exactly what they would do in order to bring you back to your parents. Generally if you are picked up by the police, they will return you home. Once you have reached the legal age of adulthood, your parents can no longer report you as a runaway.

    Another potential option would be that your parents could give permission for you to live in an alternate living arrangement, such as with another family member. This also involves some legal paperwork.

    If you decide to call or chat with us, we might have a specific legal resource for your city or county that you could then call to ask specific questions. We would also be happy to discuss other things that you might be going through.

    Again, we are glad that you are trying to figure out your options. It takes a lot to reach out for help.

    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat which is open every day from 4:30p to 11:30p CST and can be accessed here:


    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 also 17. I am going through some legal stuff with my parents and I just found out that I am pregnant. My parents will not let me move out because they do not like the father of my unborn child. "Eloping", or running away are some options we are considering. He is nineteen and owns his own house and has a stable job. My living conditions would be safe and healthy for everyone involved, meaning my baby, myself, and my boyfriend. According the MCL 712A.2, the juvenile courts have power over a juvenile UNDER 17 years of age. This means that any child that is 17 years or older WILL NOT suffer legal consequences. I am from Tennessee and cannot find much of the runaway laws here. Does this MCL 712A.2 law apply to me? What are the steps I should take next? What should I do if my parents call the law and take me to court? Please reply quickly. Thank you. I would appreciate your help.


      • ccsmod6
        ccsmod6 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hello and thank you for reaching out to the National Runaway Safeline. We’re sorry to hear that your parents and you are disagreeing to a point where you feel like you have to leave. While we are not legal experts, that excerpt you shared could be explained by the change in courts as you mature. As a youth, you may be tried by the juvenile courts for any illegal actions. Once you turn the age of majority (18 in TN), the juvenile court would not have any power over you but the adult criminal court system would.

        That being said, running away is not illegal in any state. If you do run away, your parents could file a runaway report with the police. That does not mean that the police would arrest you or charge you with any crime. Instead, if they encountered you, they would most likely notify your guardians and return you home. While you are not at risk for legal consequences, your boyfriend might be if you are staying at his house. Depending on how the police in your state act, your parents could press charges against him for harboring a runaway or obstructing a police investigation if he lied to them about your whereabouts. You can always reach out to your local police non-emergency number and ask them what their policy is.

        If you would like to talk more about your situation or explore what other options you might have, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-786-2929 or chat us at

        Take care,

    • #4
      Hi, I'm 17 and I ran away 2 months ago from Davidson County DCS. Can I get a job at Burger King????????


      • ccsmod3
        ccsmod3 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you for reaching out to us. While we are not legal experts, it looks like the legal age to work is 14 in Tennessee.Please do not hesitate to call us at 1800-RUNAWAY or chat if you have questions or need to talk. We can explore your situation, go over all your options, and come up with a plan and resources to deal with your situation over the phone or on live chat. We are looking forward to hearing from you soon, and wish you the best of luck.

    • #5
      i am 14 and planning on running away because my step grandfather hurts me all the time but i don't have a plan please help me just get out


      • ccsmod2
        ccsmod2 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hello There,
        Thank you so much for reaching out to The National Runaway Safeline, it takes great courage to reach out and share your story.
        You do not deserve to be hurt and we are sorry you are having to go through that. If you feel in danger and need immediate assistance please call 911, and a police officer will be able to help. You can also file an abuse report by calling Child Help at: 1800-422-4453. Another option would be to talk with your school counselor about what is going on, they should also be able to help you with an abuse report and provide you with resources.
        We are not legal experts but generally if you run away your legal guardian can file a runaway report. If the police do find you they most likely would bring you home if you are a minor. If you do decide to runaway there may be some options for you. One option you could consider is to see if any friends or family members would allow you to stay with them. Another option is you could call or chat with us and we can help look for safe places to stay in your area. Your safety is the top concern.
        We hope this information will be helpful to you in your situation. If you have any other questions or would like to explore more options please give us a call. We are here 24/7 to listen and to provide support. We wish you the best of luck!

    • #6
      So I’m not in a bad living situation at all but I wanna get on with my life. With me not having a reason or anything would the police still try to bring me back if my parents could prove everything is okay? Also my dad makes an insane amount of money and he would have lawyers on it in minutes. So basically what I’m asking is if they had all the legal power in the state coming after the police department for my return to my home would the police be “forced” to bring me back?


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

    • #7
      I’m 16 about to be 17 in a couple weeks, I have been caught smoking pot and my mother always thinks that she knows what’s best for me when she in fact is the reason I smoke, I love my family with all my heart but if they can’t see that I’m me and tho it is against the law for me to be smoking, I would just want for nothing more than to get away from her and all my reasons to smoke so I can stop.


      • ccsmod15
        ccsmod15 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hello! Thank you so much for reaching out.

        You mentioned that you want to run away, because your family and your mom can’t accept the fact that you smoke, and sometimes the stressors between you all cause you to smoke as well. You’re really brave for enduring everything that you’re going through. We’re not legal experts but in most states anyone under 18 is considered a minor. If you were to leave your home without parental consent, your legal guardian can contact the authorities, and whoever you end up staying with, may face some charges for harboring a runaway. Your mental health is very important, and you mentioned that everything going on with your mom and family is too much sometimes. Counselors are a great way to explore how the situation at home has been affecting you, and how to seek further help. If you wish to talk to someone you can contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness the word NAMI to 741741. You would be texting directly with a counselor, and if necessary, they will provide you with other therapist resources in your area.

        You know your situation more than anyone else, and no one can make you do something that you don’t want to do. With that being said, in most states Marijuana is considered illegal, and there can be consequences that come along if you are caught with it. If you want to know more about the consequences, you can contact your local non-emergency number in your city and state and inquire anonymously.

        We hope these resources have been of some use. If you need additional help, or want us to call somewhere on your behalf, you can reach out to us anytime at 1800) 786-2929. Best of luck!

    • #8
      I’m not in the best living situation and I am 17 I have a good job in a nearby town that a good friend would give to me he owns the business but I just heard about the new runaway law I can’t handle living with my mother anymore she doesn’t really take care of me and she isn’t completely sane if I did runaway would who I’m staying with or me be in any legal trouble in the state of Tennessee?


      • ccsmod3
        ccsmod3 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you for reaching out to us. It takes a lot of strength to reach out for help, and we are so glad that you did.18 years old is generally the age that an individual may leave home without permission from their parent or legal guardian. We are not legal experts here but we can speak in general terms. If you are under 18 and leave home without permission, your parent/guardian may file a runaway report with the police. What actions the police take once you are filed as a runaway can vary a lot from state to state and even city to city so we cannot predict exactly what would happen in your case. Generally speaking, if you encounter a police officer while reported as a runaway, you will likely be returned home. However, in that case there may be services (family counseling, etc.) available to you as a youth in crisis/runaway but again, police procedures related to offering those services can be different based on your location or the details of your situation. Another thing to consider is that while running away is not a crime, a legal adult who allows you to stay with them may be putting themselves at risk for being charged with harboring a runaway. One way to find out the laws in your area is to call your local police and ask what their policies are regarding runaway youth. 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,

    • #9
      I am 77 days from turning 18 and i was curious on if i was caught as a run away if i would have to go home. I really need out. I feel like i am going to go crazy with all the yelling drinking and abuse that goes on in my home. I spent 13 years protecting my kid brother from all the abuse and when he found out he started to hate me. I can no longer live in a home i am not wanted in.


      • ccsmod1
        ccsmod1 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hey there,

        Thanks so much for reaching out and sharing a little bit about what’s been going on, we know that it takes a lot of courage. It sounds really hard to live in a home with so much tension. It must be exhausting to not only protect yourself from the abuse but to prtect your brother as well. You're a good sibling and are very mature.

        We aren’t legal experts here at NRS, but generally speaking, if you do opt to leave your home your parents can file a runaway report, which is essentially a missing person report. Running away is a status offense; this means that it isn’t illegal, but it’s something you can’t do while still a minor. If a runaway report is filed and you are located by the authorities you will most likely be returned home. Since you are so close to turning 18 the police may let you stay where you are but this can vary greatly from area to area. You may want to call your local non-emergency police line to verify local policy.

        Absolutely no one deserves to be abused. 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 have the right to report the abuse that you have been experiencing. If you feel like this is an option you want to explore, you may find this website helpful: We can also help you to file a report if that’s the route you are considering. It may also be a good idea to explore options for staying with another family member or someone you trust as far as transferring custody.

        You mentioned in your house that in addition to the abuse and yelling there is also quite a bit of drinking. It can be really hard to live with someone who struggles with an addiction to alcohol. We want you to know that you are not alone. If you’d like to talk to other young people who are dealing with friends or family members who have drinking problems you can check out Alateen. You can find more information about this support group, or find a local meeting here:

        If you’d like to go over what’s going on in depth, or if you’d like to explore other options that you may have available to you, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-RUNAWAY. You can also chat us by clicking on the “CHAT” button on top of our homepage. We’re open 24/7 and here to listen and support you in any way we can.

        Stay safe,

    • #10
      I am 8 months from turning 18, and i dont have the worst problems at my house. but i am heavily mentally abused and have been physically abused in the past. i live in tennessee, and i “runaway” without having to come back? i have a stable house to go to.


      • ccsmod13
        ccsmod13 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for taking the time to write us here at NRS. It can certainly be stressful at home when the adults in the household are not supportive. Emotional abuse does get overwhelming and it can be tough to cope with on your own. Abuse of any kind is never okay and not your fault. Doing your own research while thinking about the decision to pursue emancipation is really responsible and resourceful!

        Generally speaking, your parents are your legal guardians until you turn 18, so they can decide where you live. If you do choose to leave without permission, your parents can report you as a runaway to the police. Running away is not illegal, but it is a status offense. This means that if your parents know where you are staying then they can have the police return you home. Some police departments do become more lenient with enforcing runaway reports for someone who is so close to 18 and sometimes they will not take a report at all. If this is the case then police would not necessarily intervene. Leaving home is a big decision to make and will always come with some risk, but your safety is very important.

        From what you shared, it sounds like home is not safe for you. We encourage you to take steps you feel are necessary for your mental health and well-being. We truly want to be a support for you as you decide on your next steps. We are available 24/7 to listen and help as much as possible. Please do not hesitate to reach out again by phone or chat if you would like to talk more in-depth about your situation and explore your options. You can contact us by phone at 1-800-786-2929 or use our live chat services at

        Stay safe,

    • #11
      can a minor of the age 17 run away from home, and manage to not get caught by authorities; get in trouble once they turn 18?


      • ccsmod16
        ccsmod16 commented
        Editing a comment

        Thank you for reaching-out to us here at The National Runaway Safeline. There are many teens in your situation around the country thinking the same thing you are so we appreciate your question.

        The answer to it, however, is not as direct as your question. But let’s get an important fact out of the way– we're not legal experts, but from what we know, running away is not a crime. If police do catch you the most they can/will do is take you back to your guardian. And that’s if your guardian files a runaway report with their local police department. Again, there are no legal consequences for running away.

        That said, if you break any laws while you runaway then, yes, you absolutely will still get in trouble if you turn 18. If you steal from a store, assault someone on the street, are caught drinking alcohol, etc. – all of these things actually are laws you would break and would have to face penalties for if caught by the police.
        We recommend you reaching out to your local non-emergency police department phone number to ask more information about the locals that govern you locally. You can do this absolutely anonymously if you’d like. In fact, we can be on the line with you if you’d like. You can call NRS at 1-800-RUNAWAY to get your local non-emergency police phone number and answer any other questions you may have.

        The National Runaway Safeline
    Previously entered content was automatically saved. Restore or Discard.
    Insert: Thumbnail Small Medium Large Fullsize Remove