For various reasons many young people run away. Often, they are seeking a solution to some kind of problem or they have allowed someone else, who also wants to run away, to influence them.
Most young people do not realize the dangers and temptations that they face. Runaway girls are often like sheep among wolves. There is plenty of male companionship, perhaps a free meal and a temporary place to stay, but the girl must pay the price. In many cases the price is the sacrificing of her moral character. Other forms of mistreatment may occur, even to the loss of life.
The question for boys is, how will they live when their money is gone? Jobs are hard to get, especially during the school term when it is unlawful to employ youth of school age during school hours. There is the temptation to steal. If they are driving a car, how will they get the money for gas? If they have stolen a car, the crime becomes more serious when they cross the state line. In most cases they may be picked up by the police.
IS THERE A BETTER SOLUTION?
The question that every young person should try to answer is, "What is the best solution to my problem?" After all, being a runaway only adds another problem, not a solution. If one is being abused and justly seeks relief from a bad situation, the runaway is looked upon as being the problem and authorities may deal with him as an unruly child, and may never learn what caused him to run away. If you feel that you are being mistreated, go to your local juvenile court, see a probation officer, juvenile judge, or talk to a police officer, preferably one who handles juvenile affairs.
In many localities, one may file a dependent petition in his own behalf in the local juvenile court asking for the court's assistant. This focuses attention upon the mistreatment that he is suffering and he is not looked upon as a problem child who has run away. Perhaps, the first one to whom you should seek advice is your minister. If you do not know one, turn to the yellow
Pages of your phone book and call a minister of the church of Christ. He will be glad to talk with you and assist. There is a national source of help for one who has run away. He is advised where to get shelter, food and counseling. The caller's confidentiality is maintained. If young people wish to communicate with -their families the switchboard can connect them by phone or can deliver a message. They can contact "The National Runaway Switchboard", a twenty-four hour hotline, toll free, phone 1-800-621-4000.
Every young person who thinks of running away should carefully examine his reasons for wanting to leave home. As one leaves childhood years and grows up into the teens toward adulthood, this is called adolescence, and one often seeks more and more freedom from parental control. In fact, one may want more freedom than he has maturity to handle. Such a person thinks that he has enough mature judgment to run his life when he really does not. Some parents grant their children almost total freedom. This can cause a youth whose parents care very much for their child's future to appear to be too strict. Such a parent will not want their child to start dating too young. They will want to know who their friends are. They will want to help guide them in their decisions about where they go and how often. The person whose attitude is, "I do not care about what is right, what is dangerous to my health, my reputation, my education, my family or my soul", may run away to seek freedom to do what he wants to do. This person is not justified in running away. This person is running from the right to do wrong. When one seeks help through proper legal channels from abuse and mistreatment, he seeks to get away from that which is wrong and to do that which is right.
A BOY WHO LEFT A GOOD HOME THEN CAME BACK:
Jesus told the story of a young man who left a good home where he was loved, how he followed the course of, "If it feels good, do it", how he paid the high cost for low living, saw his mistake, then returned to his father's house. He said, "A man had two sons. When the younger told his father, 'I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until you die!' his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a distant land, and there wasted all his money on parties and prostitutes. About the time his money was gone a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The boy became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the swine looked good to him. And no one gave him anything. When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired men have food enough to spare, and here I am, dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man.' So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming, and was filled with loving pity and ran and embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and you, and am not worthy of being called your son . . . But his father said to the slaves, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put in on him, and a jeweled ring for his finger; and shoes! And kill the calf we have in the fattening pen. We must celebrate with a feast (Luke 15:11-24) (From the Living New Testament) This is how Jesus illustrated man leaving God and seeking to fulfill the lusts of his flesh. The downward road of sin always leads one to be in want and in a deprived and troubled condition. The loving father in the story represents God's desire to have his "runaway" children come home to a right relationship with Him. Forgiveness is awaiting all who repent and turn in loving obedience to Him. Your real problem may be rebellion against God and His will for your life.