Help offered for runaways

A consultation on the issue of young runaways was launched by
the government last week after a report revealed that more than
half of the 129,000 runaway incidents each year involve under

The report found that one in nine school-age children has run
away by the age of 16 for at least a night.

A quarter of runaways sleep on the streets with some surviving
through begging, stealing, drug dealing and prostitution. As many
as 10,000 runaways suffer physical or sexual abuse while they are
away from home.

Launching the consultation, Prime Minister Tony Blair said there
must be a better way of tackling the issue. He called on the social
exclusion unit to work with other government departments to develop
a more effective system to deal with young people who run away.

“We have to make it less likely that young people run away in
the first place, and if they do, ensure their immediate safety,” he
said. “We must not just turf them back where they came from without
addressing why they ran away.”

The report outlines ideas such as providing each runaway with an
interview, and providing a network of refuge provision and
reintegration support.

The report comes in the wake of government figures published
last week that show a fall in the number of rough sleepers,
excluded pupils and 16 to 18-year-olds not in education, employment
or training.

The statistics reveal a drop of one-third in the number of rough
sleepers between 1998 and June 2000, and a fall in the number of
school exclusions by nearly a fifth between 1997 and 1999. There
was also a downward trend in teenage conceptions and an increase in
the proportion of teenage parents in training, education or
employment from 16 per cent in 1997 to 31 per cent in 2000.

The report said the policy-making approach of the social
exclusion unit, set up in 1997, had helped excluded people “get
back on their feet”.

Consultation on Young Runaways and Preventing
Social Exclusion

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