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Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Runaways
This is both a question on "teen runaways." Does anyone know what classifies as a "runaway"? Does merely going away without permission to a friend's house without telling of your destination classify as such? Would most parents call the police if this happened? How have other parents handled teen anger that manifests itself in this manner? Stella
Here is my experience with her leaving after dark. The first time: At 15 1/2 she went out the door in anger one evening after dark. I was an emotional wreck. I called the police. When they (eventually) came, I gave them the phone number at the home of a totally inappropriate boyfriend where I thought she might be. They traced the phone number and went to the guy's house to look for her there. They did not find her, but the fact the police had gone to his house helped end the negative relationship shortly thereafter. So, calling the police turned out to have been very helpful, even though they did not find her for me that evening. She came home on her own within a couple of hours . I was never able to find out just where she had been. This was extremely upsetting, especially since we do not live in the safest neighborhood .
The second time ( she had turned 16) : I also called the police. She was back before they even came over to take the report (she had tried to go to a neighbor's house and when they were not home,apparently hid out in the backyard of our house). Maybe because I had seen her head for the neighbor's house (and this seemed like a reasonably good decision for her to make under the circumstances) I became much less upset. I went on about my evening. When she returned, looking a bit sheepish, she saw that she had been out in the cold and I had been in where it was warm having a good dinner and playing chess with a friend. It hasn't happened again since and I doubt that it will ( a new therapist may have something to do with this - she takes no nonsense and I am trying to learn to do the same).
Technically, I think the police do not report children as runaways unless they have been missing for over a day (perhaps even two). But I believe parents should report it to the police if a child walks out the door , especially after dark. I have always been advised by therapists and other parents to do this. First it makes one feel less helpless. Second It shows the child one is willing to take action, registers the limits officially and implies backup is out there somewhere ( at least in principle). In the worst case, i.e. if things continue to escalate, it shows that one has tried one's best to cope with the situation and done what was required.
I hope this is helpful. for me the first time this happened I just wanted to know other people (children and parents) had survived it.
I attended Oakland's first session (Richmond and I believe Walnut Creek also do workshops). It has truly helped me to influence my teen's decisions. Our teen children may indeed control themselves but we as parents have many tools and skills which once learned can help us influence the decisions they make. No easy answers-- but successful skills can be learned by parents who are willing to work at it.
And yes, I would call the police -- and I have called the police for a problem with a different destructive behavior!!
Please sign me: Anonymous Parent of Freshman at Berkeley High School
Afterwards, I called a "cool" friend and asked if he could stay with her if things got unmanageable. But it never got to that point. He strolled in before dark, and the issue never came up again. I now think that being very clear that I did not want him to leave and that I would take drastic steps were important things for him to hear. Please sign me Anonymous.
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