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There is a reason why teenage runaways aren’t splattered all over the news-there are too many of them, averaging 10-12 missing per day. The average age of the teenage runaway is approximately fifteen. The police say unless there’s crime, there’s only so much that they can do and running away isn’t a crime. Unless the teens are in immediate danger, investigators keep a low profile on these cases not asking for publicity because missing teen cases are so common.
Kids run away for a variety of reasons: they don’t like the rules, they don’t like curfews, they don’t want to go to bed, they want to be with their boyfriend/girlfriend etc. Regardless, detectives will take on these cases if a parent reports a child missing. A parent does not have to wait 24 to 48 hours to report a missing child as is usually portrayed on television shows. Detectives start with a paper trail, making calls and looking in obvious places, but research indicates that the majority of teen runaways will return within 48 hours.
Many times panicked parents believe that the cops are not doing enough to search. In the law enforcement officer’s defense, there are cases where the same child has been reported missing 14 times and each time a person goes missing, it has to be treated as an individual report. It is also common that many times the runaway doesn’t want to come home or isn’t ready to come home. Nonetheless, each case should be taken seriously. We should all be very worried for the safety and welfare of children who have run away because the teen years are an emotional and confusing time for children. They may get caught up in situations that they do not completely understand the repercussions of such as selling drugs or exchanging sex in order to survive. Although there are privacy laws in place, I do believe that there should be a runaway provision requiring social media to give law enforcement access if a child under 18 is reported missing by their parents. It would make their job a lot easier.
Systems like SecuraChild use social-media networks like Twitter and Facebook to send out text messages and e-mails whenever a child is reported as missing through their site. It has proven to be very successful and social media has helped to resolve and recover 98% of AMBER alerts. Since the advent of social media, the recovery rate of missing children has increased over 35%.
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