Poor family relationships are the major cause of young people
running away from home, according to a new report from the
Children’s Society, writes Clare
Family change such as a separation or divorce, or when a new
adult joins a family, can leave young people feeling vulnerable or
competing for attention, and this can lead to them fleeing the
‘Home Run: families and young runaways’ shows that
children who live in step-families are three times more likely to
have run away or been thrown out of home than those living in
The report calls for more family mediation services to help
resolve some tensions between children, and parents or carers, more
targeted help for young people at the time of parental conflict and
more education on parenting skills.
Ian Sparks, chief executive of the charity, said: “Parental
separation or divorce can be a difficult time for everyone involved
and we need to make sure that children have someone they can talk
to before the situation reaches crisis point. Where children are at
risk we need to find safe places for them.”
In a second study published by The Children’s Society, it
has emerged that no single model of practice will meet the needs of
all young people who runaway effectively.
In ‘Working with Young Runaways: Learning from
Practice’, it states that a comprehensive network of services
is needed, including refuges, street work, missing persons schemes,
centre based projects and preventive work.
Sparks said: “Many of these children have multiple needs which
can’t be met through quick fix solutions.”
“If we’re going to engage with young people on the brink
of social exclusion then we must bring together the combined
expertise of local authorities, social services, police and
teachers,” he added.
The report is published ahead of the government’s report
from the government’s social exclusion unit to raise the
Children’s Society’s concerns about young runaways.
The report highlights that there is very little work aimed at
preventing children running away in the first place.
It also shows most models of practice that have been developed
so far in the UK have focused on young people who have already run
away a number of times, those who are living on the streets and
those who have recently run away.
Barbara Roche, minister of state in the Cabinet Office, said:
“The social exclusion unit has drawn on the expertise and research
of the Children’s Society and other organisations in looking
for ways to prevent young people from running away in the first
place, making sure they are safe if they do run, and finding
long-term solutions to their needs.”
‘Working with Young Runaways’ and ‘Home Run:
families and young runaways’ are available from 020 7841 4415