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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!

Trills Mon 15-Oct-12 09:27:20

"His choice"? At 14? How ridiculous.

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Mon 15-Oct-12 11:15:50

Good to be reminded about this, the DCs are still young but it's something to consider for when they are a bit older.

I had never heard of Railway Children before this though.

noidles Mon 15-Oct-12 12:05:10

MaryMotherOfCheese I agree. I'm really shocked that more people haven't contributed. So many threads quickly get up to 1,000 posts on this site, and aviva are offering £2 per comment! That's up to £2000! That is nothing to Aviva, surely we can get the post count up?

When I completed the survey I was really shocked at the figures. I guess as someone above pointed out, it's just really hard to talk about, or maybe it's that people think it won't happen to them?

Oh, and OliviaMN pointed out above that posts only count if they contribute to the discussion, and no more than 3 times.

LittleTyga Mon 15-Oct-12 13:26:12

Every five minutes is a terrifying statistic - do we know how many of those are reunited? I can't imagine the fear of not knowing where your child is and whether they are safe. I hope Railway Children manage to raise lots of money to help these families find peace.

buttonmoon65 Tue 16-Oct-12 13:31:54

MY 15 year old ran away because i grounded her for getting drunk and staying out all night , parents can do nothing with unruly children for fear of being accused of abuse , its a nightmare

Reggieinkl Tue 16-Oct-12 13:32:40

This is a great cause. Well done Aviva.

Its sad that there are so many young people who feel that running away is their only option.

CalmingMiranda Tue 16-Oct-12 13:40:47

Very sorry for those of you who have experienced a child running away. The teen years are very hard.

And is it always that they see no other option? Where does the idea of running away come from? I saw running away as a glamorous thing to do, a big adventure, when I was a kid, maybe some teens just don't see how dangerous running away can be.

Very distressing, the 'own free will' response angry

CalmingMiranda Tue 16-Oct-12 13:43:48

Is there an Impact Report for Railway Children? How effective are they? Do they work in partnership witih other youth agencies? Was there a pilot project?

PrincessSymbian Tue 16-Oct-12 15:50:36

The first time I planned to runaway, about the age of thirteen or so, I got hit by a car on the way into school (was going to head somewhere after school as my parents were always at work for a couple of hours after school finished). I can't really remember what I had packed, apart from a hairbrush. I had fifty pounds in a bank account, how I thought I was going to survive on that, God knows.
The second time was at seventeen, my father, step-mother and I had a huge bust up, I was severely depressed but being told to get on with things. I tried to leave by the front door but my father would not let me, made me go into my room, which had a door into the back garden, so I waited until they were asleep and went out via the four or five gardens there were until you hit the street.
Never lived at home again.

DontCallMeBaby Tue 16-Oct-12 16:16:45

Damn, missed the survey. I also can't do anything with this on Facebook as my dad would see it. I ran away aged 13; I'm 40 now and it's the one thing I've done in my life that makes me feel sick to think about it. I left at midnight, got picked up by people who looked after me for a couple of days. They were rough as hell, but were very good to me. The worst of it is that my parents weren't bad at all, and I wasn't an especially terrible teenager, we just lost the plot completely and could NOT communicate. It horrifies me to think the same could be only a few years down the line with DD.

PrincessSymbian Tue 16-Oct-12 19:01:47


CalmingMiranda Tue 16-Oct-12 19:38:28

Thank god you were safe, Don'tCallMeBaby. How did you meet them? Who were they?

I was doing research for a writing project once. Walking round central London all night. Cars cruising, offering to pick up lonely runaways. It was chilling. Remember Denis Neilson (?) who picked up young homeless people in a pub on Shaftesbuy Ave and then took them home and murdered them, in Muswell Hill? sad

WorldOfMeh Tue 16-Oct-12 21:11:25

Hello again everyone. OK, here's another post to boost the coffers... but I also have a serious point to make.

Not every kid that runs away is just being 'difficult'. It isn't always just some amusing 'I went as far as the bottom as the garden with a sandwich and 50p in my pocket because I wasn't allowed to watch my favourite cartoon' story. I suspect that the majority view on here will be that of parents- and you assume that other parents feel as you do towards their offspring. Well, I'm sorry- they don't. You assume that all homes are as safe as yours for children to live in. Well, I'm sorry- they aren't.

When I ran away, I slept in some places you wouldn't believe, in temperatures I was lucky to survive through. And I was not even from one of the worst homes out there. Yet it was enough to keep me on the run. At the time, I remember thinking 'I wish there was somewhere I could go to for shelter and help that wouldn't just hand me over to the cops'; but I knew there wasn't. And it didn't make sense- then just it doesn't now.

If there had been some sort of safe haven, perhaps access to counselling and mediation- then my life would have gone very differently. Perhaps I could even have gone home, with support.

Yet there wasn't. So although I was lucky in that I found good people I found some shelter with, it could have been so much better.

I was picked up by the police twice, as a runaway. They never- NEVER asked me one question about what was going on at home. Not a one. There was no social worker, no sympathetic teacher. I had other friends, at that time, going through similar and worse. Neither did they, to my certain knowledge, ever get asked any of these questions- even though I know that at least two were in horrific home situations and had attempted suicide.

My fear, aside from being sent home, was to end up in 'care'. Because I knew how bad that could be. So all it would have taken was some sick f*ck to have threatened to shop me 'unless', and I would have pretty much have to have do whatever they wanted.

Please don't make assumptions. I know how bratty teens can be- I really do- but please don't assume that a squat (for example) is necessarily some dreadful, dangerous place while the family home is the safest and best.


MaryZed Tue 16-Oct-12 21:20:49

I agree with that WorldOfMeh - ds ran away because he was very, very unhappy. The trouble was that no matter how we tried we couldn't change that.

Intervention, a safe place, some sort of mentor and a mediator might have saved us all; instead we have had five years of his unhappiness and he is only coming out of it now.

I suspect that for every child who runs away from caring parents, there are many, many more whose parents really don't give a shit (apart from the embarrassment of them being brought home and the fear of a court case if they don't go to school).

But earlier intervention would help all these kids, whatever the reason for their running away. And they should be listened to (I would refute many of ds's assertions about me, but that doesn't mean that he didn't believe them at the time).

And the availability of a safe space might have given us time apart to negotiate a truce. Instead on living in a state of continuous crisis.

WorldOfMeh Tue 16-Oct-12 21:34:14

Hi MaryZed - I am so sorry you have gone through this with your son- and I really hope that he beats the sadness and comes to see you as an ally eventually, as you clearly are one of those who do care.

I suspect that depression played a big part in how things went in my case, too, along with the family situation. However people are often reluctant to recognise mental illness in the young- it seems to get lumped in with 'difficult teenage behaviour', just when well-judged interventions could make a world of difference.

I don't know how things are now, but back in my day, there was no legal way of offering neutral ground or a 'safe haven'. Without that, it was impossible to move to the mentoring/mediation which could have made all the difference, as you say.

Stupid, when you consider the alternatives.

Wishing you the best.

imperialstateknickers Tue 16-Oct-12 21:46:10

Haven't read whole thread, as originally I'd come here to post and help earn another £2 for Railway Children. However, browsing through I've been reminded of when DB ran away minutes before he was due to be taken back to his boarding prep school. He was gone for two hours. I always remember how white he looked when he came back, dressed in his uniform, cap and raincoat. He said that some of the other boys were horrid to him. My mum and dad took him to school but gave notice and moved him to another school the moment the notice period was up, a term later.

He was only seven.

Many years later, in between spells in rehab, he told me he'd been sexually abused by older boys at that school, and that he'd never been able to forgive our parents, particularly our dad, for forcing him to go back.

He died last year from alcoholism. He was 38.

MaryZed Tue 16-Oct-12 22:19:51

Thanks smile

And I agree about mh issues - I still wonder if had ds been treated for depression when he was diagnosed at the age of 9, would he have got so unhappy that he started self-medicating, but we'll never know.

Hopefully things are looking up for us now.

But I see other kids in ds2's class (they are 14) and two in particular I worry a lot about. I can see them having the over-the-top rebellion that comes from not caring enough about themselves, which is often what starts the self-destructive behaviour.

That is such a sad story imperial. It is so true that we should listen to children more - I suppose your parents thought they were doing their best, and at least they did move him, but I suspect they haven't forgiven themselves. It is such a fucking waste of a life sad.

DontCallMeBaby Tue 16-Oct-12 22:29:32

CalmingMiranda I went to hide in the beach huts on the sea front a couple of miles away from home, they were night fishing and found me there. Took me back to their house in the next town, one of those chaotic houses with people in and out all the time, I was there two and a half days and was never really sure who actually lived there. The men had all done time in prison; the women had their suspicions that one of them might not have had entirely chivalrous intentions towards me. Nothing happened.

They took me home after my parents appeared on the front page of the local paper. I felt like a fraud when they took me home, and two of them sat in my parents' living room as my parents joked about what a 'deprived home' I came from. 'Joked' is not the right way to put it ... they were distraught, and very glad to have me back. And I feel like a fraud in the light of stories like WorldofMeh's, I really do. But there was a world of hideous going on inside my head, one way and another. If there is one thing I could wish for my DD right now it would be the kind of uncomplicated adolescence DH seems to have had.

PrincessSymbian Wed 17-Oct-12 10:31:22

Oh and the running away seems to run in the family, my grandad ran away from boarding school when he was a teenager, to go and live in a cave! I don't think he lasted very long but he was brave to try. I've always wandered what difference he would have made to my adolescence, if we had not been slowly loosing him to parkinsons.

imperialstateknickers Wed 17-Oct-12 10:39:39

Thanks MaryZed. I don't think we'll ever know for certain what triggered the depression that started DB's drug and alcohol abuse spiral but I can't imagine that the abuse wasn't part of it. Our father never knew about the abuse, he died before DB talked about it, but our mother knows and still beats herself up over it.
Another £2 please Aviva!

noidles Thu 18-Oct-12 12:08:16

just bumping again so more people can contribute smile

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Oct-12 14:50:36

Thank you noidles!

Yes, do please add some more posts to this thread. Remember: each post about your experience of/thoughts about will rack up another £2 for Railway Children, thanks to Aviva.

ShatnersBassoon Mon 22-Oct-12 15:28:06

I had no idea that children running away was so common. I didn't/don't know anyone that tried to get away from home, or at least nobody who would admit to it. My sister once said she was running away in a fit of temper, but she made it to the end of our road before changing her mind.

CinnabarRed Mon 22-Oct-12 15:30:09

I wish I could do more than simply post.

PedallingSquares Mon 22-Oct-12 16:21:08

When my brother was 17 he was considered to be 'difficult' and 'moody'. One day he ran away. He was found wandering through the country lanes near my uncle's farm, 300 miles from our home. We never found out how he got there (did he have/steal/beg for money for the train or hitchhike or goodness knows what). He said he couldn't remember and who knows if that is true or not. I don't think it matters really.

Looking back he was utterly, utterly desperate for someone, anyone to notice that he was suffering from crippling depression from headaches that made him want to die they felt so bad. Everyone said that he was just a moody teenager trying to get out of school.

I am so glad that my brother didn't try to kill himself. Eventually he got the help he needed but it took a long, long time.

I still feel so sad for that 17 year old boy who no-one would listen to.

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