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Did you know.....on average, two children in every school class will run away from home before the age of 16?*

(60 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 14-Oct-13 10:45:02

Please download the free runaway prevention lesson plans from Railway Children and ask your child's teacher to deliver them to their class to educate them on safer choices.

Railway Children say "This statistic brings home the need to introduce runaway prevention education to every child's class in the UK not to scare children, but to get them to think about the safe people in their lives, and the ways they can get help to sort out problems. If the subject of running away from home is not a topic on your child's school's PSHE curriculum, then you should download Railway Childrens free lesson plans for KS1, 2 and 3, available here and take it into your school or encourage your child's teacher to download it for themselves.

Please do this and then return to this thread and let us know:

~ What you or the school thought of the resource
~ Would you want your child's teacher to teach this lesson in class?
~ Do you think it's up to the school or the parent to raise awareness of the issues around children running away from home?

Leave a 'proper' comment below and for every response (ideally to the questions above) (up to a maximum of 3 per user), Aviva will donate £2 to Railway Children to support the work they do.

* Based on a life time running away rate of 8.9% - Still Running 3, The Childrens Society

flow4 Tue 15-Oct-13 21:33:05

This is an important subject... But every time I read a new thread, I am frustrated to see figures that just don't seem to add up... I worry that dubious statistics undermine your cause: I can't be the only person who is doubtful...

There are approx. 14 million children under 16 in the UK, and about 5 million of them are in secondary school. Each year, 84,000 run away (for a night or more). That's 0.6% of all children, and 1.6% of secondary school kids. (Runaway figures are from the same source you're using BTW, the Children's Society 'Still Running 3' report . That means that on average 1.6% of each and every class will run away in any given year. That's less than half a child in a class of 30.

And of course in reality, it's often the same children who run away over and over again... so overall, most kids won't know anyone who has run away.

I can see that claims like "two children in every school class will run away from home before the age of 16" aim to make people feel this is commonplace and 'everyone's problem'; but if it doesn't chime with people's own experience, then doesn't it detract from the real issue?

Runaways are hugely vulnerable: they are often in real danger, as well as emotional distress, and need all the support they can get. Surely it's better to focus available resources (which are scant and shrinking) on the 84,000 children who really need the help, rather than trying to reach all of the 5 million kids in UK secondary schools?

lljkk Fri 18-Oct-13 10:22:44

Thanks Flow, that was my first thought too, to quibble with the stats.
What's worse is that the runaways are concentrated in more deprived communities; MN is not the best place to reach out to those.

Willemdefoeismine Tue 22-Oct-13 10:42:50

I feel I should say something here but not sure what....Whilst I see the merit and well-meaning intent behind the runaway prevention lesson planner, I cannot imagine suggesting to my DS's super-selective that it be incorporated into their lessons - I am not arrogant enough to think that there might not be a few children at super-selectives who do run away, but my guess would be that the numbers could be added up on one hand over a matter of years.....

cory Wed 23-Oct-13 12:37:38

I am worried by the fact that this campaign is focusing on the act of running away rather than what you are running from and what you are running to.

A child who runs back to his former foster carer because SS's estimation of the new coping abilities of his birth family proved overtly optimistic is not the same as a child who runs from a loving family onto the streets after a tiff. A child who goes off to spend the night with grandma because his parents get into fights when they've been drinking is arguably looking after his own safety. A child who runs away from home 10 times in a year doesn't make other children statistically more likely to run away.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 25-Oct-13 15:10:13

Hi - we have had the following comment from Railway Children which they have asked me to post for them.

"I completely agree that limited resources need to be used effectively, and this profoundly defines how we work with vulnerable children. A large portion of Railway Children's work is as a result dedicated to providing safety nets for children on the streets. But government funding cuts have put huge pressure on frontline services, making preventative education even more crucial. Many run away because they think they have no choice or no-one to turn to. We speak to children in the classroom about the dangers of running away and that help is there if they need it.

And statistics should of course always be used carefully. Our research shows awareness of child runaways in the UK is very low and children from all backgrounds run away from home. This makes the Government-sourced secondary school and Children's Society data, for example, invaluable in tackling the misconception held by many parents and children that this can only happen to certain kids. With more support from schools, fewer children will run away in the UK and the most vulnerable will have a much better chance of getting the support they need before it is too late"

ZillionChocolate Tue 29-Oct-13 10:52:48

I can't believe there aren't more posts on this thread given the charity donation aspect?

Lomaamina Wed 30-Oct-13 20:49:47

In response to the charity's message - I am sure your charity does important and worthy work and it's important to raise awareness to the problem. However, like the posters above, my first response to this was "I must contact BBC Radio 4's 'More or Less' - this is doesn't seem like a correct use of statistics. It weakens the message and does no favours to the charity.

LordPalmerston Thu 31-Oct-13 04:47:12

In a trivial note I'm laughing at the mn pic of a classroom. I know stock image etc but ok classrooms look like that !

mindgone Thu 31-Oct-13 22:40:05

Commenting for the donation.

AnonEMoose Fri 01-Nov-13 12:30:32

Commenting for the donation

Oakmaiden Fri 01-Nov-13 12:52:54

interesting... I will download and save the lesson plans for a suitable occasion (primary school teacher !). Posting mostly for the donation - don't have anything helpful or insightful to say!

Oakmaiden Fri 01-Nov-13 12:54:48

Oh - and you are part of Girlguiding's Girls in Action campaign. My Brownie group are going to be looking at that next term.

See - another comment!

NotCitrus Fri 01-Nov-13 13:35:04

Given the definition of running away: "the term ‘running aw
ay’ is used to refer to young people who indicated that they had either run away or been forced to leave home, and had stayed away overnight on at least one occasion. ", I'm actually surprised that only one in fifteen kids has 'run away', given that would cover all the teenagers who flounce off to a friend's house swearing never to go home, as well as all the ones who end up living with grandparents/other relatives/friends for part of their studies.

Presumably the particularly vulnerable ones are those who run without somewhere safe in mind to go to?

deliasniff Fri 01-Nov-13 16:26:26

Commenting for the donation

Karenblixen Fri 01-Nov-13 17:12:29

Commenting for the donation and out of personal concerns at the moment.

DoubleLifeIsALifeOfSorts Fri 01-Nov-13 17:26:33

i do think there is alot of 'but thats other peoples children' going on. I do think prevention is better than cure and it not just being targeted at deprived areas is key.

I'll comment for the donation happily, but I can't answer the questions because I live overseas and non of the children in my child's school would understand a lesson like this delivered in English ;) PSE doesn't exist here either. I have no idea what the running away rate is. I will look at the KS1 lessons though to talk about with my own children at home.

taffleee Fri 01-Nov-13 18:21:02

Cory I stopped reading this threads further comments when you expressed my point of view totally - its not about children 'running away', its what causes them to do so -

As for 'deprived areas', that's total rubbish, I have lived in areas from 'Muirhouse' in Edinburgh, to Bray-on-Thames, - I currently live in a so called 'deprived area' in Liverpool,(Although I live in a 'detached lovely house, in an area surrounded by a lovely, friendly neighbourhood', we still get letters home from the school telling us we are living in a 'deprived area, according to the government???) and you could not find closer families anywhere, children mean more here to families than some so called 'upper class' areas, I'm sure of that, the same when I lived in Edinburgh.

Class has nothing to do with runaways, infact, quite the opposite - I would welcome a survey on this - because I think far more children runaway from home because they can't relate to their parents?

taffleee Fri 01-Nov-13 18:40:31

On a personal note, I ran away from home when I was 13, my family was very well off, but my mum left at eleven, my dad was a high ranking policeman, moved in a 21 year old girlfriend who didn't want kids (he was 34 at the time, so the age thing not on a 'wrong' level lol) and I was left on my own, cooking for myself when he was out with her or on a 'late' shift - i got left for two weeks during the summer holidays at home with my 16 year old brother because they used to go to the 'dominican republic' for all inclusives - and my mum was no where to be seen.

Eventually I got thrown into a children's home, and a million foster 'carers' money grabbers to be honest, not one person iIstayed with cared for me) from the age of 14 - 15 until my friends mum took me in, then I worked my backside off eventually working for a high powered publishing company in Edinburgh -

I've ranted, but I hate the 'its a lower class problem' - live in a so called 'deprived area' now, and the people here are the most family oriented, down to earth 'child friendly' people you could ever hope to meet

TheGonnagle Fri 01-Nov-13 18:47:32

Thank you. I shall read for awareness both in my personal and professional life.

jchocchip Fri 01-Nov-13 19:14:53

One of my daughters ran away over night at 13 stayed over with a new older than her bf. I reported her missing. But why did he not own up that he had seen her and why didn't his mum insist on calling me to let me know she was safe? Hmmm.

LovesBeingHereAgain Fri 01-Nov-13 19:15:43

I will have a read and hope it addresses why children run away. I think dd class is too young for this though.

taffleee Fri 01-Nov-13 19:25:29

TheGonnanle 'Thank you. I shall read for awareness both in my personal and professional life.'

OMG, that's the most insensitive response to a thread I think I have ever heard -

taffleee Fri 01-Nov-13 19:33:14

I'm sorry, is this a thread for parents, as 'mumsnet' would suggest, or is it a site for so called 'professionals' to get information??? I've been on this site for a little more than two weeks, and it seems to be overrun with social workers and so called 'health' professionals, even one that was a journalist starting a thread?

herladyship Fri 01-Nov-13 20:26:55


how does going to a 'superselective' mean running away is less likely?

DS (now 18) was a '1 night runnaway' age 15, due to a combination of exam stress & an argument over an enormous phone bill!

DD is 13 & some of her friends really worry me, pressured at home/pressured at school & terrified of 'not being good enough'

I work in a very deprived area, there is much less (of that type of) pressure on kids, and (generalisation) they mostly have huge extended family/friends to runaway 'safely' to if space or support is needed...

I'll pass the resources onto school and see what they think. I have no idea whether its covered.

Commenting for donation.

CeliaLytton Fri 01-Nov-13 21:09:07

Commenting for the donation

fizzly Fri 01-Nov-13 22:12:50

Just to say that I went to a super selective and there were two people in my year (120 girls) who ran away, one of whom was found in really bad shape in central Manchester after having been away from home for about 2 weeks. My dad has barely every said anything emotional in his life, but I remember him being devastated about not spotting that I had a friend with such personal issues at home and said that I should always offer a place to a friend in need - has really stuck with me.

Comment for donation.

Thesebootsweremadeforwalking Sat 02-Nov-13 08:15:07

Commenting for the donation.

Meringue33 Sat 02-Nov-13 20:30:58

My sister and I both ran away, and we came from a loving middle class home.

Karenblixen how are you? I remember your previous thread.

LadyStark Sat 02-Nov-13 20:46:35

I was at super selective Home Counties grammar school as middle class as you like and I ran away from home on a number of occasions. This really isn't a class issue IMO.

Inthechelseahotel Sun 03-Nov-13 11:21:20

commenting for the donation

taffleee Sun 03-Nov-13 16:50:38

I totally agree with your comment, and coming from someone who works a so called 'deprived' area, thanks -

I do think more kids from 'upper, middle class' homes runaway, its to do with being able to relate to your parents -

I could never relate to mine, I came from a upper, middle class home, and rebelled when my mum moved away when i was 11, my dad started dating a younger woman - his excuse was id always go back to my mum, but she never wanted us kids as she found other boyfriends and a life, and my dads new younger woman didn't want us kids either, she wanted expensive holidays, so i was thrown into a children's home, and from there various foster homes who were just after the money -

I went from living in an expensive area, horse riding with my friends, to living in a room next to a 12 year old girl who killed her abusive step by setting him on fire, she robbed of the foster parents we lived with and they had me arrested for it, handcuffed, strip searched (at 14). black bagged all my belongings to another foster home at midnight after i was questioned and told I was going to end up in prison, then the next day the girl who actually robbed the monies teacher phoned and said she wasnt in school that day, and the mother of the girl she 'skivved' with was concerned because she came home with new clothes and 50 quid cash, given by her -

I'm ranting........

BlueSkySunnyDay Sun 03-Nov-13 16:59:15

I'm pretty sure its not just children from deprived troubled families who run away and even children from superselective schools may feel like it (in my experience they have supercompetitive parents, sometimes pushing square pegs into round holes)

I came from a stable family and certainly threatened leaving, my pre-teen son has disappeared in a temper tonight saying he will be "back when I feel like it" I am pretty sure that will be when his friends have tea

All we can do is make them aware of the dangers and hope that in the depths of the "attitude" is also a grain of common sense.

taffleee Sun 03-Nov-13 17:00:35

By the way, not a social worker in site for me - they just threw my in home after home - one foster mum even stopped me from trying to phone my parents after she kicked me in the face for not taking my make up off before I slept on a 'make shift bed' because she had fostered another to sleep in the 'single room' also, to pay for her conservatory -

I slept on the street that night, before I went to live with my friend -

I have a beautiful family now, but I worry for runaways, especially kids that end up in so called 'care'.

When my children are a little older, and if i have the room, I will try to foster, older kids who need some understanding, that i never had

BlueSkySunnyDay Sun 03-Nov-13 17:01:43

taffleee - your parents should be ashamed of themselves, I cant imagine letting any child of mine go through that.

taffleee Sun 03-Nov-13 17:19:45

Bluesky I've no idea I'm writing this on here, I've never spoken about it, but I know there are children and teenagers going through this now - and from my experience of the 'care' system, there needs to be a massive overhaul, I don't know what that would mean, but from my experience, there seems to be a lot of 'money up for grabs' by people i would say are unfit for even looking after their own children.

I dont know what needs to happen, but something should x

Smudge588 Sun 03-Nov-13 18:10:40

I have some experience of the classroom lesson as a friend of mine goes into schools to deliver it. She volunteers from aviva and I think if you have an aviva site in your city they have volunteers who will come into schools to talk about it. PM me if you are interested and I'll put you in touch with her. Agree the focus should be on what running away from but I do think this is a good programme in that it does educate young people with some facts and that might just make all the difference.

Wonderstuff Sun 03-Nov-13 19:49:59

I was thinking that seems very high as a stat, but as a teacher I probably don't hear of every child who stays with mates. I do remember as a teen my own parents letting my friends stay a few times, I remember one mate being into drugs and ending up sleeping rough, one of my brothers mates stayed for quite a long time. I remember reading Stone Cold as a teen and it really sticking with me. I am from a lovely stable home though, so many kids have awful home lives, I don't think many teens run off on a whim.

Inthechelseahotel Sun 03-Nov-13 20:29:30

taffleee I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I'm a foster carer and I wish I could have fostered you thanks

Is there anything you can do about the treatment you received as eg being kicked in the face was a serious assault. It might be cathartic to bring this cruel woman to justice.

taffleee Sun 03-Nov-13 20:31:11

Wonder on a whole, 'teen' children run away from homes on the majority where they cannot relate to their parents - or their parents cant relate to them -

This seems to be a lost cause, because it often doesn't come under the 'watch' of so called 'services', where their prying eyes seem to lay in 'deprived' areas, and this is not right, their looking in the wrong areas, or maybe looking for 'easy targets'??

It's a worry............

taffleee Sun 03-Nov-13 20:41:28

Inthechel Thank you x

I'm talking about 20 years ago, and I now live a world away from my horrible past - i've never spoken about my experiences with the 'care' system, and to be honest, being kicked in the face and thrown out of a house, for putting make up on her pillow, was one of the nicer things i experienced -

I wish you did foster me, as you seem lovely x and I hope things have changed now x I'm still not in contact with my family, but have a beautiful family of my own, my experiences do still haunt me, and i'm kind of new to this site, but am finding myself opening up a little (right or wrong?) I dont know....

taffleee Sun 03-Nov-13 20:48:45

I just think older kids may need some 'understanding shoulders', whether their doing right or wrong, I know it would of helped me -

Inthechelseahotel Sun 03-Nov-13 20:52:47

So pleased you have your own lovely family and I know you will treasure them forever but it really is outrageous that you went through all that whilst in the home of someone who was trusted to keep you safe and loved more thanks from me xx

Do you ever feel the need to tackle these demons who haunt you?

cheeseandcrackers Sun 03-Nov-13 21:05:50

In response to the first comment querying the statistics, the 'less than half a child per class' calculation is per year, so by the time a child reaches 16, if it's not always the same child running away, on average 2.5 children per class will have run away (0.5 per year for 5 years of secondary school). If that's reduced a bit to account for repeat runaways, the 2 children per class figure sounds accurate enough.

taffleee Sun 03-Nov-13 21:37:02

Inthechel to be honest, not until I have recently been on here and read some threads, which have really upset me -

I have a busy life with my lovely family, but maybe a little chat with someone about some stuff wouldn't hurt, if you get me, going to do that x

Inthechelseahotel Sun 03-Nov-13 22:09:28

Sounds good smile

BlueSkySunnyDay Mon 04-Nov-13 17:56:42

Taffleee - talking about it, even if its on a forum, is a good idea as long as it doesnt make you feel worse.

I know a couple of lovely foster carers, I suspect there are some people who do it as a job just for the money, but that is definately not their motivation.

Musidn Thu 07-Nov-13 16:40:38

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Preciousbane Thu 07-Nov-13 22:52:07

I do know a woman in her thirties who ran away from a very abusive home at 16 she lived on the streets for two years. Very sad story. It has had long lasting effects on her, she is however one of the kindest people I have ever met.

hunhun007 Fri 08-Nov-13 17:26:07

I am a foster parent and I deal with a lot of kids which run away from home but most of the time they did have a good reason to do so... we still have to learn a lot on how to protect kids ...
It is wrong to blame the kid for running away without further discovery why they did it...
One of kids I know run away 3 times before someone actually stopped and ask the question WHY

Emmabombemma Sat 09-Nov-13 06:21:08

I think it's very short-sighted to assume this is a class issue and I agree with taffleee that it can be a result of not being able to relate to the parents.

I'm from a financially comfortable middle class home but ran away at 16 because my parents were being very strict and I felt completely misunderstood, smothered and unable to start expressing myself (e.g. my first boyfriend was banned from the house and I was grounded for having my belly button pierced etc ...).
It was a real shock in my community that I'd done this but it does happen. I've always vowed to listen to my children and let them be individuals. It scares me to think some people think this could never happen to them because they live in a detached house.

SmileItsSunny Sat 09-Nov-13 18:05:59

Commenting for the donation.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Nov-13 16:35:35

hello - we noticed a few of you have simply posted "Commenting for the donation" - I am afraid this does not count as a comment - and will not generate a donation to Railway Children - Aviva do need you to post a proper contribution to the thread - ideally by answering the questions posed by me above - sorry if this wasn't clear (am now amending OP).

thanks to all posts so far...keep all comments etc coming!

gytis Wed 13-Nov-13 12:59:35

hello all, i got kicked out from my house about two months ago i was living in my freind house but now i cant stay there no more, any advice where should i go? thank you.

gytis Wed 13-Nov-13 13:00:57

I forgot to say that i'm 17 smile

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Nov-13 18:05:49

gytis - really sorry to hear this. Railway Children have asked me to pass on this advice to you
"Sorry to hear that things aren't working out for you at the moment. If you have nowhere safe to stay you should contact your local council and tell them you are homeless. This leaflet from the charity Shelter tells you about your rights.
Shelter also have a free helpline you can phone: 0808 800 4444. If there is a local advice centre or Citizens Advice Bureau in your area they should be able to advise you as well, especially if the council make a decision you don't agree with. Hope that helps and best of luck"

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