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Can a 17 year old runaway in New York?

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  • Can a 17 year old runaway in New York?

    I am 17 years old and I live in New York. I have an alcoholic, emotionally abusive father. I do not feel safe going to any other relatives either because I do not wish to cause family issues. Am I legally allowed to runaway to a friends house without being brought back in my state?

  • #2
    Hello, it sounds like you are in a deeply frustrating and emotionally dangerous environment, and we are here to help as best we can. We understand the impulse to get to safety without wanting to cause other issues.

    In New York, there are several laws in place to protect runaway youth if you choose to go to a runaway youth shelter or crisis intervention facility. If you go to stay with a friend, your parent could technically file a runaway / missing person report. This would give law enforcement the right to investigate your whereabouts, including visiting the homes of places they suspect you might be.

    However, that does not necessarily mean they would forcibly return you home. Technically they can (the law generally prioritizes returning youth to where you are legally "supposed" to be, even if it is not the best environment), but with 17-year-olds who have not committed any crimes and are willingly at another home for their own safety, it is rare they would forcibly return you home.

    Whomever you stay with can also contact local law enforcement to disclose that you are with them, and are willingly staying their for your own safety, exempting them from any possible charges/legal consequences if your parent did file a runaway report.

    If you'd like to talk things through further, please contact us by live chat at or call us at 1-800-RUNAWAY.
    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
      hi im 17 and i want to runaway with my little sister i was wondering if i go to a youth center would law enforcement still take me back to my home even tho i want to stay at the youth center?


      • ccsmod3
        ccsmod3 commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi there, thank you for reaching out. It depends on the circumstances. In New York, you aren't legally an adult until 18. You could be returned to your guardians especially with your sister being younger. Each circumstance is different especially if you are in physical danger at your home. The shelter will be able to help navigate that with you. Reach out to 1-800-RUNAWAY or to get referrals for shelters in your area.
        Be safe,
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