Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Runaways Are Missing People, Too

There is a sense, I feel, that oftentimes when folks hear the term "endangered runaway" their minds turn away from the idea of a person gone missing as the result of foul play, and instead tend to think of the child as a willing individual who has simply gone off on his or her own to "see the world" (and so tough luck to them). But it should be considered that not all cases categorized as an "endangered runaway" may be the case of a child willingly running away on his or her own. Indeed, for most children, this is probably not the case. We know that child predators are out there - both on the streets and online - seeking to gain the trust of youngsters. So it could well be that very many runaways have been enticed to leave their homes by such offenders. So we should not turn away, less concerned, simply because a child is categorized as merely a runaway. Because it is still true that they are very young, and they have no life experiences to draw upon. And for those who have gone off with predators, they have been deceived into thinking things that are not so. And they will be abused.

My unsolved missing persons page, R-Files, does not post the profiles of endangered runaways. But this is not because I think they do not qualify, nor because I don't think they are in mortal danger. The truth is, there are just far too many endagered runaway cases for a single person to profile (and update) while also maintaining multiple sites. Plus, other sites already perform this service, and do it much better than I ever could.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the vast majority of all missing persons cases in America today are runaway children. I've mentioned this to a few people, and I've received a typical "Oh, well then.." in response. It's almost like a sigh of relief. "Ahh, so, they're not really missing..." But children do not run away because all is well in their lives. Chances are, they are upset, confused, distraught, and quite possibly under the emotional influence of another who means them harm. And if they are running away from an abusive family environment, they will still be no safer alone on the streets.

They need our help. Whether we agree with their motivations or not, runaways are missing people, too.



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