Next Steps: What To Do If Your Child Has Run Away

It’s every parent’s nightmare: discovering your child has run away from home. While this can be a distressing experience, immediate action, a proper plan and compassion can help resolve these issues and heal your home. 

NOTE: As of Feb. 29, 2024, Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) has rebranded to Landmarks for Families. Our nonprofit, community programs and residential services remain committed to cultivating thriving youth and families in this new chapter.

Keep Calm. Seek Aid. Show Love.

At Carolina Youth Development Center, we work diligently to understand the needs of children and families and how we – as a community resource – can help create safer environments and thriving households. If a runaway occurs, these tips can help you reunite and repair the bond with your child.

Remain Calm 

Keeping calm is critical if your child runs away. It’s a challenging, emotional experience, but your composure will allow you to think clearly, take effective action and provide the support your child needs. Your calmness becomes their anchor in the storm, increasing the chances of a safe reunion and a path toward healing.

Cooperate with Law Enforcement

Did you know one in seven youths between 10 and 18 will run away at some point? By working with local law enforcement, your cooperation ensures a coordinated effort to bring your child home safely. 

Share any relevant information about your child’s recent behavior, friends, social media activity or any clues that might help locate them. The more information you can provide, the better equipped the authorities will be to assist in the search.

Notify Your Support Network

It is not uncommon for a missing child to seek refuge with someone they know and trust. Once you have contacted the police, reach out to your support network. Inform your friends, family and neighbors of the situation. Beyond offering emotional support, these individuals may have valuable insight or information that can help you locate your child.

Express Care

While the police handle the formal search, you can start by looking in areas your child is known to frequent. Check their favorite spots, the homes of friends or relatives and any other locations they might visit when upset or in distress.

Seek Professional Aid

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to wait 24 hours before reporting a missing minor. Contact organizations that specialize in locating missing children. In the United States, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers valuable resources and assistance to parents in these situations. 

Home Is Where We Heal

Once your child is found and safe, it’s essential to focus on healing and rebuilding your relationship. Running away is often a sign of deeper issues, and while children and teens can face many unique challenges, there are also many ways to resolve them. These simple practices can help create stronger bonds within your family unit:

  • Listen Actively and Non-Judgmentally
  • Rebuild Trust
  • Encourage Independence
  • Maintain Open Communication
  • Spend Quality Time Together
  • Show Unconditional Love

As a trusted resource for South Carolina youth and families, CYDC is ready to help you along the way. Visit our blog for knowledge to help you prevent runaways and build stronger relationships with your child. Reach out to our team to learn more about how programs like our in-home Family Success Coach Program can help unite your family for understanding and success.

CYDC Is Here For Lowcountry Families

With more than 200 years of experience supporting our nation’s youth and families, Carolina Youth Development Center is equipped to lead your child or family through life’s challenges. Whether on-site or in-home, our compassionate team is ready to meet you where you need with the services you need. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and speak with a member of our team.

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CYDC is now Landmarks for Families!

For more than 230 years, we have guided neighbors toward stronger, hopeful futures and now we’re evolving too. We’re grateful to enter this new chapter with you. Welcome to Landmarks for Families!