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Encyclopedia > Runaway youth

A runaway is a minor who has left the home of his or her parent or legal guardian without permission or has been thrown out by his or her parent. In law, a person who is not yet a legal adult is known as a minor (known in some places as an infant or juvenile). ... A parent is a father or mother; one who begets or one who gives birth to or nurtures and raises a child; a relative who plays the role of guardian // Mother This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... A legal guardian is a person who has the legal authority (and the corresponding duty) to care for the personal and property interests of another person, called a ward. ...


In North America, runaway children or youth are a chronic and serious social problem. It is estimated that each year there are between 1.3 and 1.5 million runaway and homeless youth in the United States (Coco & Courtney, 1998; Cauce et al., 1994). This problem also exists in the United Kingdom, with runaway youths often congregating in London. World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ...

Current studies suggest that the primary cause of youth homelessness is family dysfunction in the form of parental neglect, physical or sexual abuse, family substance abuse, and family violence (Smollar, 1999; Robertson & Toro, 1998). Family conflict can also be caused by sudden and or drastic changes in the family composition (i.e. a divorce, re-marriage, death of a parent), parental substance abuse, youth's substance abuse, and youth's sexual activity.

A related term used for runaways is "throwaway youth". Normally a throwaway youth or child is someone who has been "locked out" or forced to leave home by his/her parents or caregivers. However, the distinction between runaways and throwaways is not clear as in many cases it depends on who provides the information. When the parents are asked they say the youth ran away, while the youth would say he or she was forced to leave, either directly or by circumstances. In most cases, youth run away because the situation at home is seen as unbearable and not because they are looking for excitement or fun.

Running away from home is considered a crime in some jurisdictions, but it is usually a status offense punished with probation, or not punished at all.[1] Giving aid to a runaway instead of turning them in to the police is a more serious crime called "harboring a runaway", and is typically a misdemeanor.[2] [3]. The law can vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another; in the United States there is a different law in every state. A status offense is an action that is a crime only if the perpetrator is a minor. ... Probation is the suspension of a prison or jail sentence - the criminal who is on probation has been convicted of a crime, but instead of serving prison time, has been found by the Court to be amenable to probation and will be returned to the community for a period in... A misdemeanors (or misdemeanour), in many common law legal systems, is a lesser criminal act. ...

See also

A street child or street kid is a child who lives on the street – in particular, one that is not taken care of by parents or other adults – and who sleeps on the street because he or she does not have a home. ...

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