Running away is theoretically simple, since the only requirement is leaving the home of a parent or guardian without permission, and without intent to return. The reality is that underage runaways face many dangers and are usually ill-prepared for life on their own.
Runaways usually leave home because of stress from a major change in family structure or to escape school problems, neglect, physical or sexual abuse, family substance abuse or family violence. However, underage runaways living on the streets often lack adequate food, shelter and clothing, and are vulnerable to crime. They are also more likely to commit crimes and to abuse substances than peers remaining at home. Runaways and potential runaways needing help can call the National Runaway Safeline crisis line at 1-800-786-2929. The service is available 24 hours a day.