Resources for parents of at-risk and troubled teens.



January 2010

National runaway switchboard

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Cases of young people who find it necessary to run away from home for whatever reason prompted the United States Federal Government to set up the National Runaway Switchboard (NRS). This is a confidential communication system that offers services to the runaways and also their relatives.

The NRS receives calls from runaways or their relatives who may be reporting their plight. For most of the runaways, they seek a person that can listen to them and especially because after moving from home they end up being homeless. Relatives on the other hand could be seeking the whereabouts of their runaways.

A hotline number for NRS exists and according to credible information, everyday there are callers online twenty four hours every day. Many calls are answered every single day of the year on the number 1-800-RUNAWAY.

One aspect of NRS is that it as much as possible steers away from imposing judgments on the callers but as much as possible offers a listening ear and offers viable solutions and help to the callers. The nature of help given depends on what the caller’s need is for instance a runaway seeking reconciliation and return home may be assisted by the NRS finding out the status quo at home.

Common problems reported as the cause of callers running away from home include abusive parents or guardians, disagreements with the folk at home, divorced or separated parents and running away with peers. Others cite problems with schooling, neighbor hoods and other changes in the family such as loss of parents or jobs.

At NRS, there are dedicated employees and volunteers who work in shifts. Volunteers are first trained to work in the crisis lines. Many organizations and institutions are considered affiliates to the goals of NRS because they are available as recommendation sites for various NRS callers. For instance runaways who need training in some life skills can be referred to institutions that offer such programs for free. Similarly callers who need counseling are referred to institutions or places where they can get this kind of help.

Another feature of the NRS is the message service where runaways who do not wish to directly call their relatives or guardians can leave them a message. The messaging service works both ways such that a communication is established between the two parties.

The NRS also has a website that gives a good insight to the nature of assistance they can be to runaways and their families. To learn more you can visit their site

For runaways who find help at NRS and become convinced and willing to return home, a bus company has volunteered and offered free bus tickets to those who may need them under the Home Free Program. More details can be found at the company’s website

Funds for running the National Runaway Switchboard are provided by the government in conjunction with other partners that offer grants and donations. These may be organizations and foundations or even personal donations.

Other important details and services of the National Runaway Switchboard are listed in the government fact sheet at Staff