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Oh go on, please talk to us about runaway kids: Aviva will donate £2 to the charity Railway Children for every post!

(231 Posts)
FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 15:35:44

Did you know that it's thought that one child runs away from home or care every five minutes in the UK?

To help raise awareness, the charity Railway Children is working with Aviva to provide help and support to children who have run away from home, or are at risk of doing so.

They've also helped us to build some pages on why children run away and how to spot the warning signs.

What they would like now is to hear your thoughts. Do you have any experiences to share - either as a parent or maybe from your memories as a child? Do you have any thoughts on the issue in general - about public awareness and support for the work of the Railway Children, for example? Do you think most parents just assume this isn't a problem they'll likely have to deal with?

Do please come and add your thoughts here. For every contribution to the discussion, Aviva will donate £2 to the Railway Children. You can post a maximum of 3 times per thread.

Aviva will donate up to £100,000 between now and the end of 2012 as part of the Mumsnet campaign, and there's a few other ways you can donate more money.

(SURVEY NOW CLOSED) They'll also donate £2 for every person that completes this survey. 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).

And £2 for everyone who 'likes' and recommends this thread on Facebook (by clicking 'Recommend' at the top) and if you 'like' any of the articles here.

Do please join in and help that money stack up!

runawaychanger Thu 04-Oct-12 09:14:21

I ran off when I was 14 - not so much running away as couldn't take it any more after yet another disapproving lecture from my mother, got the train to London as I often did to go shopping for the day, and just really didn't want to go back, so phoned a friend who lived in another city and asked to come and stay sometime - er, like as soon as possible.

Fortunately her lovely mother said yes, see you tomorrow morning. I'd missed the last train. I ended up spending the night in the Old Compton Cafe in Soho as one of the few places that was open, with various elderly gay men buying me tea. Stayed a few days with my friend, went home, and was a bit more organised in future - never stayed more than two consecutive nights under my parents' roof until moving out after A-levels.

Thing is, my parents were perfectly decent people - my father was away a lot and has no idea how to deal with emotions, my mother was there and had the odd episode where the menopause sent her hormones bonkers, but the main issue was I was gay and this was an unmentionable topic - while my parents said they had no problem with "those sorts of people", the disapproval oozed out and I felt even more alienated than the average teenager with older clueless parents.

I was lucky - this was the year section 28 came in and many LGBT people experienced being kicked out by their families, or worse. Hasn't got that much better since - a huge proportion of runaways are LGBT and are too scared to seek most help. There's some wonderful organisations like the Albert Kennedy Trust but they are tiny. And like someone said, cuts to youth services have really screwed up organisations' ability to work together.

FuckityFuckFuck Thu 04-Oct-12 09:31:59

I kind of ran away when I was a teenager. I spent about a 5 weeks living with my (ex)BIL and nephew. My parents knew where I was because BIL phoned them but I just didn't want to go home.

I wouldn't say I was 'troubled' but I needed space for a bit. Both grandfathers died fairly close to each other (my first experience of death as well), moved house from where I had spent my whole life, started high school, Dsis moved out to start Uni and a hefty dose of hormones on top of it all.

My parents were worried about me and came to visit me once a week or so. They have never been abusive or neglectful and they were hurt that I didn't want to come home.

I was very lucky that I had somewhere to go, and that my BIL looked after me. I don't know what I would have done/gone if he wasn't able or willing to do it.

DS is 3, and I don't know what I would do if he ran away. Being the other side must be utterly heartbreaking.

gazzalw Thu 04-Oct-12 09:56:42

I think I must live in a sheltered world because not sure that I have ever known anyone (knowingly) who has run away from home. As I said I vaguely considered it as a tween but really only because I'd had a row with my parents. I had a 'halcyon' view of living in a wooden shed with plenty of food and books - you can tell I hadn't thought it thro! Where would I have got the food from?

I would be interesting to know what the stats are about 'runaways' socio-demographically, by cultural/ethnic background, parts of country where it happens most etc.... I would assume it happens more from large urban areas just because it's easier to lose oneself but could be very wrong...

It's horrible though to think of so many vulnerable youngsters putting themselves in even more vulnerable places....

DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:00

Every post you say?

DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:22


DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:35


DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:46


DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:59


MaryZed Thu 04-Oct-12 10:17:02

No Fanny, sorry. Olivia clarified ^^ up there - they have to be posts about running away.

worldgonecrazy Thu 04-Oct-12 10:25:46

As many have posted, there is "running away" as a right of passage, when we have a fall out with our parents, hide in the local park/garage for an hour, get hungry and go home.

Then there is the real problem "run away", which I think is what this thread is actually about. The children who are running away from disfunctional and broken families because they feel that homelessness and dangerous streets are a better option than what they have within their family.

I'd like to see early intervention to support those families, and also better care for those who cannot, for whatever reason, live with their families. The fact that most children in care homes end up with drug problems, or working as prostitutes, thieves, burglars and eventually homeless, is something that should make this nation hang its head in shame.

DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:59:11


In my defence I have a Lurgy.

And couldn't run away if I tried.

littletingoddess Thu 04-Oct-12 11:26:31

My younger sister threatened to run away when she was about 10, following a row with our mother. She stormed out of the house and walked quickly down our drive (we lived on quite a lot of land in the states, our drive was a good 1/4 of a mile). She left onto the road and walked in the direction of the highway. At this point, I decided to go get her, as she was stubborn and angry enough to go who knows where with whoever she could find. I caught up with her as she was walking on the side of the highway and talked her into going back home. We all made light of it at the time, but sometimes I do wonder...

Fast forward to now and thanks to me, my daughter is a dual national with two passports. She's only an infant but sometimes I do wonder if we should keep her passports locked away, just in case she thinks about getting away when she's older. It's really scary. I had no idea that so many children run away and like previous posters have mentioned, I wonder what the socio-demographic stats are? Not being able to locate a child seems to be the darkest, bleakest nightmare that any parent could experience. sad

curlywurl Thu 04-Oct-12 11:36:29

Very important topic thanks for setting this up

I have to agree that support needs to be more forthcoming.

Three years before I left I broke down in school. I remember having a few "counselling" sessions with my HOY and explaining to her about what was happening at home. But because I wasnt being sexually or physically abused nothing ever happened. My parents werent even informed.

Tbh if someone looked at my school record and counted the amount of trips to sick bay and times I had to leave early added to that break down I think they would ask why something hadnt been done. I was a very unhappy person for years.

Labootin Thu 04-Oct-12 14:10:02

there was a girl in my school who was taken into care, (her mother had got a new boyfriend who "didn't do kids")

The home she was sent to (this was the early nineties it has since closed) was horrific
She ran away many times but always picked up by the police and returned.

She was a lovely girl but it destroyed her, dodgy boyfriends (much older) then drugs and it was rumoured prostitution and one day never returned (she would have been 15 at the time)

I'd like to think it all worked out for her and that she ran away and found happiness (and streets paved with gold) but I don't think that's very realistic .

It was never as far as I know reported in the media. She just disappeared and no one appeared to give a shit.

HiHowAreYou Thu 04-Oct-12 14:39:48

I always feel very sad when you see the missing people posters up in train stations or supermarkets.
When you see the occasional child. And you think "Why is this one not all over the news? Only eleven. Where has she gone? Did nobody really care?" and she isn't in the news at all, ever, just a picture in the supermarket for a few weeks, then forgotten.
Awful. sad

NorbertDentressangle Thu 04-Oct-12 14:57:53

I worked in a childrens home around 20 years ago and we had frequent 'absconders' as they were called then.

The majority would run to the same people or place every time. These were often completely unsafe and unsuitable places and people too - eg. drugs and alcohol freely available, criminal activity that gave the money, older 'boyfriends' sad.

In the more extreme cases you would have young people who would be returned by the police via the front door and minutes later would have absconded again via the back door - this would go on and on day after day, week after week.

Our hands would be tied as we weren't allowed to physically stop them and, for the young person, the place they were running to would be more appealing than the childrens home. Some of these cases would have a secure order taken out on them to try and break the pattern of running away and to enable work to be carried out with them to address their issues.

I often wonder what the situation is like in childrens homes nowadays.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Thu 04-Oct-12 15:02:52

When I was 15 I ended up being 'fostered' by a family friend. She was an absolute nightmare, and I realise now I was seriously depressed. I walked out of the house and to my grandparents in my school uniform. If I hadn't had them to go to, I don't know what I would have done. I only saw the woman once more, when I went back to collect my belongings.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Thu 04-Oct-12 15:04:45

I hope that pastoral care has improved at school - I changed guardian twice in 6 weeks and the year head didn't blink an eyelid. I was often off sick and didn't do homework - it would have helped me immensely if anyone had noticed and told me that they cared.

I'm grateful my grandparents were there.

UnChartered Thu 04-Oct-12 16:17:31

i used to practice at running away from home, most weekends i'd pack a bag and go 'exploring', a sarnie, an OS map and jam jar full of squash

i'd have fantasies about living in one of those tiny brick huts you see by the side of railways or in the middle of fields, am still intrigued by them even now.

my grandma lived a long, long way away from me...i never made it to hers but left home legally at 16 instead

CaptainHetty Thu 04-Oct-12 16:34:15

I was never aware of the scale of the amount of runaway children, I suppose I quite naively assumed because some of them get such high media attention and public support that all cases would be the same. I'm guessing a lot of the children who run go back home quite quickly or are found by family, friends or the police, and therefore no big searches ever get underway?

I did disappear a couple of times as a teen. My family weren't dysfunctional, or abusive, I was always a well cared for child and never went without. Unfortunately I had a lot of issues including school phobias and avoidance, which caused my parents no end of stress and bother, and I didn't know who/where I could talk about what I felt or needed, and ultimately I ended up thinking I'd make everyone's lives easier if I just went.

ValentineWiggins Thu 04-Oct-12 16:54:34

Nothing to add except £2

TheProvincialLady Thu 04-Oct-12 18:44:16

My cousin ran away at 14 and came back pregnantsad It has blighted her life. Another cousin ran away and became a prostitute. A terrible waste of two lives.

I wouldn't have recognised myself as a runaway until I read the warning signs. I spent LOADS of time at friends' and relations' houses, anywhere except home.

VintageEbonyGuitar Thu 04-Oct-12 18:57:09

Well I suppose I was a typical troubled teen. Well off family, own business, alcoholic pedo step father.

After the first "rape" at 12, I ran away and wasn't noticed for 6months, thanks to the family who took me in.

I ran away again at 13 but to not get caught I'd go home every few days and move clothes/eat food.

At 15 I was kicked out, whole other story not even worth £2

VintageEbonyGuitar Thu 04-Oct-12 18:57:44

Well I suppose I was a typical troubled teen. Well off family, own business, alcoholic pedo step father.

After the first "rape" at 12, I ran away and wasn't noticed for 6months, thanks to the family who took me in.

I ran away again at 13 but to not get caught I'd go home every few days and move clothes/eat food.

At 15 I was kicked out, whole other story not even worth £2

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