Q. My daughter has run away from home. She is seventeen years old and on drugs. I have no clue how much money, if any, she has and I want to know whether there are shelters for teens and whether they provide young people with drug counseling?
A. Teens in trouble first attempt to find shelter with friends and family. When this is not available, teens can take refuge at a homeless shelter for teens. Many teen homeless shelters offer the following services: food, shower, shelter, safe environment, crisis counseling and emotional support.
You are not alone in dealing with this crisis. The rates of runaway teens have reached alarming levels in recent years. According to national statistics, one out of every seven children will run away from home before reaching the age of 18. In 2012 alone, it was reported that over 2 million runaway and homeless teens are living in shelters or on the streets. Outside of the raw statistics, as a parent, here is what you need to know and act upon quickly.
What Parents Need To Do Immediately
If your teen has run away you must first notify the police and file a missing persons report. The next step is to notify your local relatives about the situation. They may already know more then you. Often a teen will call a relative for assistance. The next step is to contact your teens friends parents for assistance. You may be surprised just how supportive they can be under these circumstances. Finally, contact your state hotline for runaway children or call 1-800- RUNAWAY which is a national hotline exchange that can put you in touch with local services and information.
Treatment For Drugs – Shelter Resources Very Limited
Teen shelters do not provide in-depth therapy or work on developing long-term emotional changes in teens. Likewise they do not offer professional drug-counseling services on site. Shelters do however provide lists of contact information for local public, private and nonprofit teen drug treatment centers. But it is up to the teen to reach out and contact them after the initial screening.
Why Teens Run Away
Teens are under lots of pressure. The pressure is often compounded by drug and alcohol abuse. Sometimes, the teen can be so addicted that they leave home in order to feed their addiction and to hide the true extent of their drug use from their parents.
Teens often threaten to run away before they actually do it. It usually follows an argument with the parents followed by threats of leaving. Sometimes teens are just threatening their parents with running away as a means of feeling powerful and independent of their parents, but after they calm down, normal life often resumes and the teen remains at home having worked out their problem.
Other times a teens threats are real and you should keep alert for the warning signs of leaving. Warning signs include your teen engaging in secretive behavior like stealing money and hoarding food in preparation for their journey outside the home. Rather then angrily confronting your teen with threats of greater punishment should they leave, it is far better to talk to them while providing your teen with a sense of love and acceptance. Everyone makes mistakes and there is nothing your teen did or could do that would make you as the parent stop loving and supporting them. You are the safety net for your teen and this is the time to make sure your teen understands this without question.
How Long Do Teens Stay Homeless
Most runaway teens usually return home after just a few days. It does not take long for teens to realize just how difficult and stressful the streets can be. According to recent government statistics, nearly 70% of all run away teens return to their family within the first seven days.