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Child runaways in significant danger

A quarter of child runaways have been the victim of a harmful or dangerous experience, reveals new research from The Children’s Society.


'Still Running 3', the first comprehensive picture of running away for under 16s for six years, also shows that one in five child runaways have begged, stolen or done 'other things' to survive.


One in nine was hurt or harmed on the last occasion they ran. One in six children said they had slept rough, or stayed with someone they had just met.


Yet teachers, social workers, police and other professionals are not stepping in and supporting the vast majority of young runaways. Around two-thirds of children who run away are not 'visible' to professionals.


The research also exposes, for the first time, that there is a very strong link between family relationships and running away. Children who have experienced family change are more than three times as likely to have run away in the past year as those who have not.


Children who have experienced high family conflict are around six times as likely to have run away in the past year.


Still Running 3 findings also include:


  • Children with learning difficulties or a disability are twice as likely to run away.
  • A substantial number of children run away at younger ages – more than a third first run before the age of 13.
  • Young runaways, on average, are much less likely to feel positive about school, feel they are doing less well and hold lower future educational aspirations (such as going to university).
  • Children not living with family, including those living in foster or residential care, are almost 50% more likely to have run away at some point in their lives.


The Children’s Society is calling on central Government to create a national safety net for child runaways, including creating a national action plan for runaways.


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