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NOW CLOSED: UK MNers: Child aged 6-19? Please please please complete a Railway Children survey about talking to your child

(103 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 25-Sep-12 16:47:55

We've been asked by the charity Railway Children to find out how you feel about talking to your child about a variety of topics.

The survey should take a few minutes to complete and is open to all UK Mumsnetters with at least one child aged 6-19 years.

For every survey completed, £2 will be donated to Railway Children by Aviva, to support the work the charity does in the UK - please note you can only answer the survey once.

Everyone who takes part and adds their details at the end will also be entered into a prize draw to win VIP rugby tickets (for a family of 4) to attend the Aviva Premiership Final in May at Twickenham, courtesy of Aviva (these can be passed on to family or friends if you win but are unable to attend).

Mumsnet will be working with Railway Children over the next few months and we'll tell you more about our plans shortly.

If you have more than one child aged 6 to 19, for this survey we'd like you to please answer thinking about one of these children. It could be your boy, girl, oldest, youngest or middle child (if applicable) in this age band, please just pick one at random to answer the questions about. If you have older or younger children please answer thinking about your child aged 6 to 19.

Here's the survey link again

Railway Children and Aviva would also welcome any comments you have about the issues raised in the survey on this thread so do share what you think about running away and communicating with children here.

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw


bubby64 Tue 25-Sep-12 21:59:57

Done, very interesting survey

TimrousBeastie Tue 25-Sep-12 22:23:01

I'm trying to but for question one is says This question requires an answer even though i have sex and age filled out.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 25-Sep-12 22:37:24

Timrous..sorry about that...can you refresh the page and try again?

TimrousBeastie Tue 25-Sep-12 22:46:44

worked this time.

Done - interesting survey

StaceeJaxx Wed 26-Sep-12 19:40:52


Busyoldfool Wed 26-Sep-12 20:23:56

Done. My answers would be completely different if I had answered for my other DC and that worries me slightly.

steppemum Wed 26-Sep-12 21:07:04

done. It actually made me feel better about my parenting, as I realise the one thing I do is allow/encourage my dcs to talk about anything. No subject out of bounds, and my ds does ask....


notgoodatcatering Wed 26-Sep-12 23:16:03

Done, very thought provoking

GoingBlankAgain Wed 26-Sep-12 23:49:01

Done, was enlightened by the facts within the survey.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Thu 27-Sep-12 00:09:28



lisad123 Thu 27-Sep-12 10:46:42


AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 27-Sep-12 12:44:18

Busyoldfool - that's ok - we want folks to pick a child at random - who you pick will be different from someone else.

Please do add your thoughts on this topic to this thread - we'd love to get some debate going

mumnosGOLDisbest Thu 27-Sep-12 12:54:55

Done. Untill a friends ds ran away i had very different ideas about who runs away.

noidles Thu 27-Sep-12 14:23:07

It's interesting that the survey asks questions about whether you think low income families are more likely to run away than high income families. I'd never really put much thought into it before, but had assumed there might be a bias to low income families, but when I think about it more I guess that the figures might be more evenly spread.

I remember when I was 9 or 10 I was being bullied one day at primary school right in the middle of a class and we had a supply teacher at the time. I was really, really shy and felt too shy to tell the supply teacher what was happening because I didn't know him, so instead I just got up, ran out of the classroom, ran out of the school and went and hid behind a shed near my house. If my Grandad hadn't found me a good few hours after the school alerted my family to my disappearance, I'd have just stayed there indefinitely because I was too frightened of going home and being told off. I never really thought of that as 'running away', but I guess it was an must have been frightening for my family.

I guess what I mean is there's SO many reasons why children run away. I did know someone who ran away when he was about 15 because he had a pretty rubbish home life and was from a low income family.

Might also be interesting to see if reasons for running away change over time. Mine was just because I was a bit odd and didn't know how to communicate that I was upset, but if I'd run away when I was 15 or 16, my reasons might have been vastly different.

This is interesting, but must be hard to know how to talk to you children about this, when you hope it will never ever happen to you.

LadyInPink Thu 27-Sep-12 19:21:37


Tuttutitlookslikerain Thu 27-Sep-12 20:09:00


lunchbox Thu 27-Sep-12 23:08:35


GoingForTheGold Fri 28-Sep-12 04:46:58


Done, was very interesting and I was totally wrong about the number of Children that run away each year, it was shockingly high.

MrsCornish Fri 28-Sep-12 12:20:22


FireEngineDoll Fri 28-Sep-12 12:23:59


LoonyRationalist Fri 28-Sep-12 12:34:29

Done, I didn't realise running away affected so many children.

Rikalaily Fri 28-Sep-12 12:35:49


gazzalw Fri 28-Sep-12 12:49:17

I distinctly consider thinking about running away (and living in a shed) when I was 9 or 10 but it was just a pipe dream for me.....I am not sure that even when the DCs are in a real strop that they have ever threatened it....

Done, also shocked at the number of runaways - and had never considered that term being used for kids staying away at friends or relatives houses who presumably need help just as much as those at the more extreme end living on the streets...

Done. Very shocking.

SarahStratton Fri 28-Sep-12 13:42:47

Done, another one shocked at the sheer scale of this problem.

BrianAndHisBalls Fri 28-Sep-12 14:24:33

Completed, very shocked at thenumbers, my guess was 10,000!

mistlethrush Fri 28-Sep-12 14:27:58

Brian - same here. Shocking numbers.

NettleTea Fri 28-Sep-12 14:33:37

done. shocked at the number of kids involved. I was out by a factor of 100

starfishmummy Fri 28-Sep-12 14:45:57

Interesting and thought provoking survey.
When I was a teen a child I knew ran away from home, but it is not something I had thought about much since then

LittleDragon Fri 28-Sep-12 15:13:07

Very interesting survey. was shocked by sheer scale of the problem.

I would like more details on the signs to watch out for in case there is a problem as I am an assistant leader in Girlguiding UK.
I would also like info I could give the girls if they feel they can't talk to us especially as some of the older ones tend to feel they are too old for childline no matter how many times we tell them they aren't so wondered if there were any other suggestions.

gymboywalton Fri 28-Sep-12 15:34:49

shocking figures

jackies4 Fri 28-Sep-12 15:53:29

interesting survey indeed, knew there was a problem, but never knew it was that big.

CoffeeGoneColdAgain Fri 28-Sep-12 16:02:32

Wowsers I was so wrong I also put 10000, and more shockingly I should know better. My neighbours are the dear parents of teen runaway Andrew Gosden, I see the pain they suffer every single day.
Just never realised how many do run away. sad

notanotter Fri 28-Sep-12 17:14:34

busy old fool yes my answers varied dramarically with each child

I must admit I put 10,000 at first, then changed it as I thought it was too high.

Eddas Fri 28-Sep-12 18:41:14

I was very shocked at how many children run away, especially given the definition used, had it been run away for a few hours then I wouldn't be so shocked.

WhereMyMilk Fri 28-Sep-12 21:36:28

Very thought provoking. Realised I have no idea of the "signs" to look for if someone is thinking of running.
I ran away aged 3 the first time. There were more. Fortunately my granny lived nearby so always ran to her thank god...sad

Done. Very interesting, I had no idea of the scale of the problem - how sad that so many children feel home life is so unbearable that they have to run away. sad


lemontruffles Sat 29-Sep-12 09:49:32

Done. Shocked by high number of children who run away - I guessed 5000 and thought that seemed a lot - how naive. sad

HecateHarshPants Sat 29-Sep-12 16:15:35

i didn't realise it was so high. It's shocking and so sad. It's upsetting to think of all those frightened and vulnerable children, and their terrified parents.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 29-Sep-12 17:48:20

LittleDragon - there is some info on the Railway Children MN pages here HTH

SE13Mummy Sun 30-Sep-12 20:11:47

It won't let me go beyond the first page sad

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 30-Sep-12 20:23:56

SE13Mummy - do you get any red messages above the questions? Or maybe on the last one on that page you've added a comma or something else - it needs to be a whole number.

Thanks for all the responses so far...keep them coming!!

SE13Mummy Sun 30-Sep-12 22:13:24

I didn't at the time but I've closed down that window now. I'll have another go.

SE13Mummy Sun 30-Sep-12 22:16:45

It let me complete it this time!

LittleDragon Sun 30-Sep-12 23:25:28

Thanks for that AnnMumsnet. It just gives me another help when dealing with the girls and knowing what to look for.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 01-Oct-12 11:46:29

LittleDragon - no worries - may have some more info for you - will send it across when I get it.

THERhubarb Mon 01-Oct-12 12:19:12

I wanted to run away as a child. Never did because I worried about who would look after my brother, but I really really wanted to.

My kids will never be in the same situation I was in and luckily we are very open with them both and I feel confident that they can talk to us about anything. As ds has separation anxiety I reckon I'll have problems getting him to leave home never mind running away!

gazzalw Mon 01-Oct-12 12:28:23

I think one thing that this should teach us all as parents is that it could happen to any family and it's complacent to think otherwise.....

pengymum Mon 01-Oct-12 13:41:00


Done sad

Done. I chose DS1 at random but realised that I probably haven't talked to DS2 anything like as much about difficult subjects.

cm22v077 Mon 01-Oct-12 16:28:40


iseenodust Mon 01-Oct-12 20:36:11


kasha78 Tue 02-Oct-12 02:39:30

Just done survey. Thanks very interesting and really gets you thinking :0

jennybee1408 Tue 02-Oct-12 11:06:29

great survey hope it helps some kids

BigStickBIWI Tue 02-Oct-12 11:27:35

Have done.

pdb Tue 02-Oct-12 11:40:26

I was quite shocked how many children run away, i've never even thought abou this as a possble occurance with my own kids but guess nobody is immune

Jins Tue 02-Oct-12 11:52:43

Fabulous survey and happy to help.

If I win the tickets (unlikely as I never win anything) I'd like them to be auctioned or raffled to raise funds for the charity. Rugby tickets are of no interest to me or anyone I know and I'd rather they did some good.

JaquelineHyde Tue 02-Oct-12 12:07:54

I would really like to be on the panel but the dcs aren't nine yet sad

I ran away at 15 and sofa surfed and lived rough for a long time. I remember sleeping in a town centre toilet for a few nights, well I didn't sleep much as you can imagine.

I had a lovely up bringing in what would be considered a middle class home (not financially but aspirationally), when people I know now learn that I was a runaway and the types of people that forced me to socialise with they are shocked as I suppose I don't fit the stereotype of a young, homeless runaway.

BigStickBIWI Tue 02-Oct-12 12:08:34

Oh, how sad, Jaq sad

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Tue 02-Oct-12 12:16:43

I had NO IDEA about the number of children who run away each year. I am astounded and saddened.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Tue 02-Oct-12 12:19:34

Jaq , I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I wonder how your experiences have affected the way in which you are bringing up your DCs, compared to the way I bring up mind.

I had a perfectly "naice" upbringing, but my relationship with my mother was tricky. I have tried to learn from that and to treat my DCs differently, or to react to their choices more carefully and calmly, but bits of my mother often creep in. sad

mama1109 Tue 02-Oct-12 13:08:23

survey done

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 02-Oct-12 13:23:05

JaquelineHyde - am sure we'd love to have you on the panel if you're able to share your experiences...think it would be of massive value. Let me know if you'd like to (PM me) and I will add that in to your survey from.

Again thanks to all those who have responded so far...keep your responses coming.

THERhubarb Tue 02-Oct-12 13:25:35

Jaq, I don't know if you are up for sharing this, but could you give us some reasons why you ran away? I'd like very much to try and prevent this from happening either to myself or any other family.


treacletart Tue 02-Oct-12 20:17:51


JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Wed 03-Oct-12 12:43:08

Well done to whoever wrote that questionnaire; it's jolly well crafted.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Wed 03-Oct-12 21:06:40


Ineedalife Wed 03-Oct-12 21:55:20


We did some acitivities with our Guides a couple of years ago to do with the Railway Children. It was a good way to raise awareness amongst the girls and their parents.

I liked the survey and was glad that I talk to my teen about nearly all of the topics mentioned.

smiles007 Wed 03-Oct-12 22:49:09


JaquelineHyde Thu 04-Oct-12 11:02:56

AnnMN I would love to join the panel and will PM you to do that.

Rhubs I ran away in the middle of the night with 2 carrier bags of clothes and my wages from a waitressing job I had. No note left, nothing. I know the following morning my Mum sent my little brother up to get me up from school and he came back down and said I wasn't there sad My Mum and Dad were frantic I had just vanished. It was 2 days before I called the house to say I was ok.

The reason I left was purely out of embaressment and fear, my Mum had found out that I had stayed at my boyfriends house the weekend before and had had sex when I should have been away with the venture scouts on an away weekend.

I had been sat down and spoken to about it by my Mum on the evening I ran away, she had checked we had been safe and that it had been what I wanted etc etc. She had then moved on to my lies and not going to venture camp and how angry she was about that and dissapointed etc and I got sent to my room being told we would deal with it in the morning.

I suppose if I could give advice about how I felt looking back and what could have been different (what I am making sure I do differently) the main thing would be TALK. Open and honest conversations about everything, sex, drugs, alcohol everything. I was mortified that my parents knew I had had sex, we had never spoken about it I was embaressed and ashamed and couldn't face sitting across the breakfast table from my Dad!

I also think you need to allow children the room to grow and have freedom. I was never allowed out, I never, ever had sleep overs and wasn't allowed out past 9pm. It was this strictness that made me go behind my parents back to try and get some freedom which was the catalyst to me running away.

I never went back home, I was too scared (again I think this comes down to the lack of talking between me and my parents) my relationship was slowly re-built with my family but it took a long, long time. My Dad had a breakdown and had to give up work because he was worried sick about me sad Until I had children I couldn't even begin to imagine the pain, worry and strain I put them through.

The first 2 years were the hardest it was during these times I was sleeping rough and sofa surfing, I was arrested for shoplifting and was hanging around with the worst parts of society. I was offered and had access to every kind of drug you can imagine and then some. The other females in my social circle were either selling sex for favours like drugs or somewhere to stay or food etc (not straight up prostitution for money but sex got you what you needed) and the rest just gave it up for free as they were so desperate for love. Within the 2 years all of them were pregnant.

I resisted the drugs and sexual advances and put all of this down to my upbringing. I had very strong convictions about what I wanted from life, I had aspirations and knew drugs, drink and having a baby would not give me the life I wanted. I don't know where this strength came from to do this but I forged my own way. A drop in centre for young people opened when I had just turned 17 and they helped massively, showers, hot food, advice and they even out of their own budget put me up in a B&B to keep me off the streets.

Off the back of that I got a job at BT as a 999 operator and managed to rent myself a little 1 bed flat smile After a year at BT I applied for a job at the CSA and got it grin I stayed there for 4-5 years and have never looked back.

Now I'm a mum of 3 (7, 6 and 5) and I'm pg with dc4, married to a wonderful man and studying for my MA in social work. My relationship with my family is stronger than ever and my Mum and I are unbelievably close. I know I was one of the lucky ones, some of the people I used to know are dead, some in prison and many others living very chaotic lives. Only a few of us got out unscathed.

Sorry for the enourmous ramblings I hope this is of some help to someone. Always remember you may not be able to stop someone running away no matter what you do, but you can save them by the way you bring them up, instill a feeling of self worth, give children aspirations and the confidence to go there own way, to say NO that's not me and follow their own path.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Oct-12 11:12:24

JaquelineHyde - wow. Amazing. thanks so much.

JaquelineHyde what an amazing post. Thank you for being brave enough to put that out there.

LoonyRationalist Thu 04-Oct-12 12:06:47

Great post Jaqueline, loads to think about, thank-you

THERhubarb Thu 04-Oct-12 12:12:31

JaquelineHyde what a moving post. Thank you for sharing your experiences, that must have been incredibly hard for you to open up about.

And yes, it is very useful indeed thank you. I can identify with you when you said about how strict your family upbringing was. Mine was a very traditional catholic upbringing and there was this huge thing about never bringing any shame to the family.

I will most certainly do as you say and try to be as open as I can be with my two.

You are an amazing woman and very inspirational. You have a lot to offer a panel such as this one. Thanks again smile

Housemum Thu 04-Oct-12 17:48:18

Wow, incredible story. I was just stunned by doing this survey as to how big the issue of running away was - I feel very lucky that my 19yo is relatively well adjusted!

Saying that, everything people say about honesty and openness has been key - I have never skirted round issues - whatever she has asked (sex/sexuality/drugs) has been answered honestly and whenever I have felt the need to talk to her I have done just that (eg when first going down the park at weekends as an older teen warning her about the issues around under age drinking, and the risks of taking illegal or unprescribed drugs). Information is essential - my mum was a single mum at 24 having only a hazy grasp of the basic facts of life!

When answering the survey I did it for my 9yo, should realy have answered for the 19yo as a lot of the issues haven't been ones I've raised with the younger one yet.

NormaStanleyFletcher Thu 04-Oct-12 18:58:23


TheReturnoftheSmartArse Fri 05-Oct-12 08:51:51

Jaq, you are amazing. You've made me a bit weepy - and I'm not a tearful sort!

the questionnaire has been completed. i didn't have any assumptions about income level but do have some about abuse, substance use etc.

when i first started teaching i had this young man in my class and remember being heartbroken to discover that things had gotten so bad for him at home, there was no food, no heat, nothing and his dad was an addict, that he had packed a bag and taken himself to social services sad brave boy.

working in secondary schools has left me with no illusions as to how tough some young people's home lives are and how little support there really is for them from schools or social services - and that's those who are on their radar.

i used to run away as a teen but was lucky to have a friend's family who would take me in.

posting again

so that you get that maximum donation.

MamaSara Fri 05-Oct-12 10:06:51

Done. Interesting survey....had no idea about the scale of the problem. Horrible to think of vulnerable children alone on the streets.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 05-Oct-12 17:13:26

Hello - thanks for all the responses on the survey and on the thread(s) - all much appreciated - but we need more folks to do the survey so if you're yet to do so please complete it this weekend. Thanks in advance...

Interesting and thought provoking survey.

Luce808 Fri 05-Oct-12 22:41:25

Done, although putting pregnancy and contraception as one topic to talk about wasn't helpful. I've talked to my 6 year-old about pregnancy (as I'm sure a lot of parents of young children have on one level), but no reason to (yet) about contraception. So I struggled to answer that question.

CuriousMama Fri 05-Oct-12 22:57:12


VintageEbonyGuitar Sat 06-Oct-12 00:05:35

I'm going to be a completely pathetic nasty bitch again

Jacs' point is not necessarily anything to do with strength/upbringing/desperation for love, rather the amount of damage done to the child before they ended up on the streets. A beaten/abused child is likely to have a wealth of issues that negates the labels of strength etc. It's unfair to blame lack of strength on children who may have come from abuse hell.

Phone won't link to survey, sorry

I have a good parent/child relationship though hth

ILostMyList Sat 06-Oct-12 09:38:36

I filled in the survey and posted it but mn went all weird and I think it was not received. also, if I click on the link, it just opens up this thread and not to the survey.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 06-Oct-12 14:02:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Maitri Sat 06-Oct-12 14:54:58


cq Sat 06-Oct-12 17:36:00

Done. Had no idea of the scale of the problem. I talk to my kids about anything and everything - sometimes they are embarrassed but I hope they know they can come to me with anything.

I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it would be not knowing where my children are and if they are safe.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 07-Oct-12 20:20:40

ILostMyListb - your survey form is there - thanks!

NigellasGuest Sun 07-Oct-12 21:03:22

have completed the survey. Had to keep focused on the DC I chose to have in mind!
all mine have threatened running away, never have done so.
I ran away as child for about 4 hours!

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 17-Oct-12 10:29:24

Sorry for the delay - am pleased to say the winner of the rugby tickets is psammyad - am emailing you now

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