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Is it illegal to advise a runaway before they actually run?

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  • Is it illegal to advise a runaway before they actually run?

    I, a minor, gave suggestions over the Internet to another minor considering leaving their home on how to stay safe in the event that they did run away (simple stuff like 'have a destination in mind' and 'bring extra supplies'). I did not offer to harbor them or give them money. Is this legal? Could police go through their social media messages in an investigation?

  • #2
    Hi there,
    Thank you for reaching out to us at the National Runaway Safeline. You did the right thing reaching out to us with your questions.

    So we are not legal experts and the way that police handle runaway cases varies greatly by situations. Generally, running away is considered a status offense and harboring a runaway can sometimes result in charges. However, offering options to someone in a difficult situation is absolutely within the laws, in fact it is one of the things we do here at the NRS. It sounds like you were offering them support and we want to thank you for being there for someone who might have been really struggling.

    If you know or meet anyone else on the internet struggling or needing to run away, that you can always refer them to us at the NRS (our number is 1-800-RUNAWAY and we have a 24-hour chat on our website). We can help find them shelter resources through our database as well as continue to offer them options.

    Additionally, if you ever want to talk to us about running away, mental health and anxiety, or even on behalf of a friend, we are here and our lines are 24/7, toll-free, and confidential.

    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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