Information for Teens - fort lauderdale
Why are kids running away or getting thrown from their homes?
Each year in every Florida thousands of teens run away or get thrown from home — kids from every city, neighborhood, and school. Many of them are going through normal changes — both asserting independence and making mistakes — that are part of growing up and defining their identity. Others are in abusive homes or in families undergoing emotional or financial stress. And some are abusing drugs or alcohol, are involved in gangs, or have serious behavior problems — situations that their families don’t know how to handle.
Some reasons why kids are running away:
- significant lack of family communication
- feelings of not belonging or not being good enough
- physical or sexual abuse
- fighting or violence between parents
- problems with parents or blended families (step-parents, step or half-brothers and sisters)
- problems with non-parental living situation (other relatives, foster care, group home)
- parental alcohol or drug use
- kids’ alcohol or drug use
- loss of a parent due to divorce or death
- sexuality/teen pregnancy
- financial difficulty — ongoing or unexpected
- moving to a new area/school during adolescence
- friend/peer influence
- power of gangs
What happens to kids who leave home
Some common runaway experiences:
- going from friend to friend or relative to relative — not belonging anywhere
- sleeping in bushes, cars, abandoned buildings
- missing or skipping school, eventually dropping out
- being hungry, sometimes not eating for days
- trying to find a job with no consistent home for showering and washing clothes
- if working, not earning enough to live independently — plus, most landlords will not rent to juveniles
- hanging out more and linking with other street kids
- having belongings stolen, including identification
- panhandling and stealing
- using drugs and alcohol, often excessively
- having sex with someone for a meal or a place to stay which may lead to multiple sex partners or prostitution for money
- dealing drugs
- becoming ill or getting injured as a result of living on the street, for example skin diseases, upper respiratory infections, blistering and infection from sun exposure, sexually transmitted diseases, and trauma or wounds from fights
- getting arrested
How to get help
It can be overwhelming for teens and parents to try to figure out what to do when they’re having problems. The reality is that frequently kids don’t understand parents, and parents don’t understand kids — but the street is never a good choice for any youth. Most teens and parents can get through tough times if they resolve conflicts with discussions, not arguments — and if they recognize when they have a family dilemma they can’t solve on their own. If you or someone you know is in a difficult situation, learn more about resources for help — and ask someone for direction.
Note: 800 numbers are toll-free, even from a pay-phone.
24 Hour Referrals
National Runaway Safeline 1-800-786-2929
Operation Home Free coordinated through National Runaway Switchboard (youth 12-18 may receive Greyhound transportation home provided parents have filed a missing person’s report)
For access to additional local referrals, contact your school district’s guidance or social work department, your pastor, or your local helpline.