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June 2018Vol. 19, No. 5Report Shows Youth Increasingly Turning to Federal Help Hotline Before Running Away

New data from the National Communication System, a federally funded hotline operated by the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), shows that an increasing number of young people are calling for help before they follow through on possible plans to run away. These data are presented in the 2016 National Runaway Safeline Crisis Contacts Report, which was released by the Family and Youth Services Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NRS responded to 29,806 calls or messages in 2016, about 74 percent of which were from youth age 21 or younger either seeking help for themselves or a friend. Data show that 9 percent of the calls were from parents and 6 percent were from concerned friends of the youth. The report shows that more youth are seeking help before they run away or end up homeless, as 35 percent of contacts were from youth contemplating running away and 16 percent were from youth who had already run away from home. The report notes that, by comparison, 56 percent of the reported hotline calls in 2011 were about youth already living on the street, 37 percent were from youth who had run away, and only 13 percent were from youth thinking about running away. Almost three-quarters (71 percent) of the NRS contacts in 2016 were from girls, and 27 percent were from boys. Nearly half (44 percent) of contacts were White, 18 percent were Black, and 16 percent were Hispanic or Latino. In decreasing order of importance, contacts were for the following reasons:

  • Family dynamics
  • Peer/social issues
  • Mental/physical health
  • Emotional/verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse/assault
  • Transportation
  • Alcohol/drug use

The 2016 National Runaway Safeline Crisis Contacts Report is available at (1,700 KB).