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Laws Punishing Children Who Run Away from Home 
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There are some states in the United States that make it illegal for someone underage to run away from your home, if you're a juvenile. My state in particular states that a juvenile under the age of 18 will be punished if they voluntarily leave their legal guardians' homes.

I'd like to set aside the argument of "they're kids, they don't know what they're doing" for a second to consider if the law in and of itself is a good/right/just law. Because remember, there will always be that kid who's smart enough to carefully plan out where to pick up after they escape, and are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves at a young age. And there are kids who are constantly emotionally abused by their legal guardians, but cannot report that kind of damage because there's no physical evidence to use against them.

Is it fair to arrest these kids and send them back to where they escaped?

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:05 pm
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What are their conditions for kids who run away because of abuse or something? Overall it's kind of ridiculous. Kids aren't property of the state and if they're going to run away, yeah, usually that's sucky, but it's the parent's job to inflict rules and punishments. Choosing to physically walk away from a property you are not legally bound to, as with prisons or other similar institutions, shouldn't be illegal, lmao. That's so stupid.

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:37 pm
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kitsune-prophet wrote:
There are some states in the United States that make it illegal for someone underage to run away from your home, if you're a juvenile. My state in particular states that a juvenile under the age of 18 will be punished if they voluntarily leave their legal guardians' homes.

I'd like to set aside the argument of "they're kids, they don't know what they're doing" for a second to consider if the law in and of itself is a good/right/just law. Because remember, there will always be that kid who's smart enough to carefully plan out where to pick up after they escape, and are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves at a young age. And there are kids who are constantly emotionally abused by their legal guardians, but cannot report that kind of damage because there's no physical evidence to use against them.

Is it fair to arrest these kids and send them back to where they escaped?


It bothers me that there are strict laws against children running from home. I do not believe, under certain circumstances, it should be okay for the police to arrest a child that has ran away from home if the reasons include the following:

1.) Fear of parents
2.) Physical/mental/emotional/sexual abuse
3.) Emotional troubles unrelated to parental abuse
4.) Any other type of mental or emotional distress caused by one or more legal guardians

Sometimes, the only way to heal is to be alone. And often, parents do not want to leave their children alone. Thus, many children run away because they feel trapped. There is no fairness in sending an emotionally disturbed or hurt child to a juvenile detention center, where other cruel teenagers might take advantage of them in more ways then one.

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:38 pm
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I don't condone running away from home if only because a child can call public services or something if things are getting out of hand. There are hotlines for that. Heck, there's 911 for that. But hey, in extreme cases, yeah. It could really be what's best. That said...

I really feel like the laws in these states are just another instance of people wanting the government to raise their kids, and as some might have gathered from my responses elsewhere in this forum, I am definitely against that. Children shouldn't be punished by law for running away from home. If they're just running away to get attention and things really aren't that bad, the parents need to deal with that, not state officials. It should not fall on the government to keep children in line. If the child ran away to escape abuse... that's another matter entirely and should be looked into in other ways.

I don't see any good coming from sending a child to Juvie for running away from home. In my opinion, that's ludicrous.

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:56 pm
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I think they should change it, so that if a child runs away from home they're returned BUT the family is closely monitored afterwards for any signs of abuse or things that could be hurting the child, and the child removed if this is the case.

I have reasons for this, based on experience and logics.

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:13 pm
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That's a good thought, actually. When my little sister was an idiot and made a bogus call to 911 claiming abuse (my parents are angels and would do no such thing), they were monitored for a month to determine whether or not my parents were abusive. When they passed with flying colors, all they had to deal with was a fine for a false alarm to 911.

I don't advocate running away as the first option, but sometimes abusive parents/guardians are incredibly deceptive and manipulative, and even a child's calls to an authority can go ignored because of the guardian's ability to wriggle out of trouble. Especially if the child is in their teenage years - authorities will tend to take the side of the parents because teens are notorious for running away from home.

I'm thinking of one case in particular where a 17-year-old was being emotionally abused by her guardian. She was perfectly capable of handling herself, but her guardian refused to give her her own social security number, get a job, and learn how to drive. And after depriving the child of these opportunities, the guardian then began to scold her once or twice a week, telling her that she was worthless and never pulled her weight, how she would never be successful in life, how she was going down the wrong path, etc etc (it was much worse than that). Emotional abuse. All of the child's belongings were continuously confiscated, and the only way she could retrieve them was by getting a job, or a license (which she couldn't do, as the guardian was withholding the information the child needed). If this child attempts to call protective services, there's a very strong chance that the guardian will have her put into the hospital on basis of insanity (which is plausible considering the family) and abusing the guardian.

She escaped that house the minute she turned 18, but she contemplated running away many times because her state doesn't forbid it.

Mine does, which is why I made this topic.

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Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:35 am
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Well, I don't think I've ever heard something so stupid. I don't mean to offend anyone but really? If a child runs away, they usually have a fairly good excuse. So basically, these states are trapping children, saying "stay and carry on dealing with the abuse from your family or face the law and be punished" and I think that is absolutely ridiculous.

So no. No, I do not think it's fair to punish them for running away from home.

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Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:59 pm
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This is kind of stupid. There's a chance a kid could get lost so yeah, fine, but I know people who ran away due to a abusive household.

I have an uncle (not really an uncle--close friend of my dad's so they're like brothers and I was raised calling him uncle) who more or less raised himself on the streets because his mother would more or less lock him tied up in a closet whenever she brought someone over.

So yeah, not big on the law at all :/ I mean, if someone ran away from home, there is a reason to, isn't there?

On the otherhand, I also know people who run away over something stupid (OMGICURSEDATMYPARENTSANDTHEYPUNISHEDME) like one of my cousins who probably deserve this.

In short, I really think the circumstances should be looked at behind a run away before something serious is done.

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Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:30 pm
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for what ever good or bad reasons there might be, weather the household the child lives in is a decent place or a horrid one it still should not be the law's job to make sure someone's kid is at home. It's the Parent's job to do so and if the parent is a abusive one then something needs to be done what ever it is.

Yes kids can call for help but well for instance I have a friend who his father punched him in the face when he did something (forgot what, was along the lines of "I wont do that." or "I'm leaving and you can't stop me.") police were called and they said that his father punching him in the face, because he was under age that it was "Discipline" and the father was allow to "Discipline" His child. So the obvious way to get out of situations like that are not always ones that will work cause there are laws within that help that guide and dictate what is needed to be helped. and I wish it wasn't like that >_<

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Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:44 pm
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It definitely should NOT be in the government's hand. The government is not there to discipline your children. It is the parent's job and it's ridiculous how much the parents rely on the government.

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Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:56 am
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I don't think the state should have the right. I like the idea of returning them and having the parents closely monitored. But juvie? No way.

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Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:35 pm
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Running away from home is not a crime, in my opinion. It should not even be considered a crime. If a child runs away from home, most likely it is because of family issues. Why would the government want to punish a child in a bad situation by putting them in the "child form" of a prison? It is irrational to me, to be honest.

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Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:15 pm
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the majority of you are conveniently forgetting that if there wasn't some kind of "running-away" law in place the police wouldn't be able to intervene. what do parents do when their teen has run away? call the cops. most teens are emotionally unstable and irrational, don't get me wrong i'm 17 myself which is exactly why i say this. i know first hand that the actions many teens take wouldn't have been done had they been able to think clearly and maturely. i'm not saying that there aren't any mature teens out there, but they are the minority. so think about it clearly, what if one day you're teenage child decides to run away for one of many reasons and you call the local authorities only to have them say "sorry ma'am, there's nothing we can do."

maybe going as far as to punish them might be a bit overkill, but these kinds of laws are put in place by the people, who are we to question what the majority of each individual state want for their children?

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Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:21 am
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shunn6653 wrote:
the majority of you are conveniently forgetting that if there wasn't some kind of "running-away" law in place the police wouldn't be able to intervene. what do parents do when their teen has run away? call the cops.


That is a fair point.
Also, if someone kidnaps a child/teen but manages to make it look like they ran away, then the police won't be able to do anything.

But I still don't think they should be punished especially if they have a good reason as to why they ran away. :)

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Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:58 pm
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There is really no justification for someone just running away from home. It would be totally different if they were escaping from abuse and were to stay at a friends house or extended family (which I know of someone who this applies to). As well, these "children" typically don't get punished unless their parents report them as runaways in which case one could say that if their parents care enough for their well being then there was no reason to run in the first place.

In all honesty, there is no justification. Call the police. Call child services. Be smart about it. Running away from your problems is no solution.

I don't agree with them being punished but you have to learn from your mistakes somehow. Ultimately, laws like these are created with consideration of the "child's" well-being in mind.

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Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:38 pm
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If a child runs away from their home the police have a right and a duty to intervene anyway, as it becomes a missing persons situation. Either way, there are better ways to implement a law that enables police to intervene further than to suggest that children should be legally punished for running away.

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Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:22 pm
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If you ask me, it sounds like the government is just trying to control us even more than they already do. Teens need freedom,and some parents refuse to let their kids do what others would do because it is too dangerous when in fact it's perfectly safe. (Like just riding a bike around the neighbourhood to visit a friend who lives only a few minutes away would be considered far too dangerous for someone who is almost 18, in the eyes of some parents)

Back to topic. There is always a reason for why a child or teen would run away. If it's something from school it's most likely a teen. Kids can be really cruel. Teachers say bulling will stop if you tell, but a lot of the time it doesn't. I had a friend who told the priciple about a girl who was bulling another friend. After she got a few detentions, she sent two ex boyfriends to jump him. Thankfully my friend is a strong guy and made it out okay.
But in my option if a child runs away, the government should moniter the family and school for a few months to see whether or not there is abuse at their home or school

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Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:04 am
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At some point, you have to ask what is considered "running away." Does that include when Kid A runs to the end of his block and hides in the woods in plain sight? If not, what makes it any better or worse than Kid B who goes across the state on a hitchhike?

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Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:37 am
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Honestly, I can't imagine not having a room to sleep at, fully of all the things a house provides including shelter, entertainment and food available when needed... that said, to run into the street without a plan, wow, that must have been some pretty awful situation that perhaps lacked the things that would keep me in the house. Running away can't be easy, even with a plan, something must have triggered it, as I can't imagine someone running at random. That something needs to be taken into consideration, it should not be forced upon the child/teen to continue to deal with it.

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Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:12 pm
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scrivenerspen wrote:
At some point, you have to ask what is considered "running away." Does that include when Kid A runs to the end of his block and hides in the woods in plain sight? If not, what makes it any better or worse than Kid B who goes across the state on a hitchhike?

That doesn't change the fact that they still both ran away if they don't come home for a couple of days and no one can find them if it was their choice. But really it depends on some circumstances on why he ran away.

I also agree with everyone. It depends on the conditions and the Government shouldn't put restrictions on teens just because they are teens. They teach kids to be free but when we are in trouble we can't? But I do think they should do it depending on circumstances.

Also it really should be about conditions like any kind of abuse.

Like I had a friend (Middle school by the way) who would always stir drama running away to hurt his parents just because his parents tried to discipline him. He would never listen and steal. Since I remember he broke a window with his ball just a few hours after his parents had told him not to kick the ball as the window might break. After he broke it he got a spanking from his parents they grounded him from his games,computer,phone, and TV. He ran away because after he got his whooping he called the police and they said it wasn't Child Abuse as it was disciplining him. Something like that should be arrested just to show the kid how life really is. The parents cared a lot and then just stopped. (He used to run away a lot but now doesn't but he would never be punished by law.)

So unless there is a good reason such as abuse or something close to it they shouldn't be punished by law. But if they did it for no reason or a reason that isn't as harsh as abuse such as discipline they should be punished. :\

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