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National Runaway Prevention Month highlights resources for teens in crisis | Main stories

November is National Runaway Prevention Month. The National Runaway Safeline works to get the word out about resources available to children in crisis.

Safeline reports that 4.2 million young people experience homelessness each year, which translates to about 1 in 30 teenagers.

“Homelessness isn’t always quite the picture that I think a lot of people would imagine. This is a very serious problem that is closer to it than we think,” — Sam Gillis, chief program officer of the National Runaway Safeline.

Gillis said parents may not realize a child they know has run away.

“The young person in your child’s class who is still kind of struggling and looking for a way to get to school, but doesn’t have regular access to food, or is just hanging out on the couch at friends’ houses,” Gillis explained.

She said children between 12 and 25 may leave home because of abuse, neglect or simply fighting with their parents.

“85% of young people who come forward say they have some kind of problem at home. It could be a conflict with a family member, maybe they just don’t want to follow the same rules,” Gillis added.

Safeline has a 24-hour hotline that can connect children with shelter, food and mental health services.

“Our emergency shelter is mainly for those who are not on the street. There are very few restrictions or rules,” Dan Watkins, executive director of God’s Shelter of Love, told WAND News.

God’s shelter of lovein Decatur, open to women and children, as well as teens and young adults who need a safe place to hang out.

“Once we had an emancipated 17-year-old boy. Probably 25, I’d say, at this shelter — I don’t have exact numbers — but I’d say it’s pretty common in that age range,” Watkins added.

Runaway Safeline said they are receiving more calls from teens 15 and under, making the need for prevention more important than ever.

“Often they have these really big feelings and they don’t have a way to really navigate them. So our job is to help figure out how we can help them understand and slow down their processing and get them resources, — Gillis explained.

Safeline also offers a curriculum that families can take together to help develop healthy communication skills. Click here to learn more.

God’s Shelter of Love accepts donations to finance its work, Click here to learn more.


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