Facts:● Young people under 18 make up over half of Australia’s missing person reports● Those more likely to be missing are girls aged 13-17● 99.5% of people are located. In fact 85% are found in the first week.● About one third of people will go missing again. You can report someone missing more than once.● It is not a criminal offence to go missing
What Can I Do?
To help you through this time, try to maintain a level of calmness and take time to think about the situation. Find out what you can about your child leaving. Was it impulsive or planned? Have they run away alone or with friends? Have they taken anything with them, or left anything behind? Think about where your teenager may go, and contact people who may know something.
If you have reasonable fears about your child’s safety or wellbeing, you may choose to make a report at your local police station. This does not mean they will be in trouble with the police, or will be charged with an offence – it is not a crime to go missing. It is usual practice for police to notify the Department of Community Services when young people under 15 years of age go missing, and for decisions about their welfare to be made collaboratively. If an environment is assessed to be unsafe, police will not force young people to return home.
Some Strategies for Parents
1. Think about why your child run awayIn some cases young people run away because of safety issues in the home. They may have experienced physical, sexual or emotional harm, or witnessed violence between family members. Other circumstances in which young people run away include difficulties at school or with friends, relationship difficulties in situation when parents re-partner or re-marry, drug or alcohol problems. Young people may experience depression, anxiety or stress, and it can be very difficult for them to know how to deal with all their emotions.
Take warning signs and threats seriously. Listen carefully to what your teenager is saying and talk to them about what they are feeling. Be careful of making threats in the heat of an argument.
Comments such as “if you don’t like it you can leave”, are often make in the midst of emotion-charged encounters. Whilst you may not believe your teenager will go, many do.
2. Discuss options with your teenagerWhat alternatives are there to running away? Is there somewhere else they can stay? Who else can they talk to about what they’re feeling?
Keep up to date with who your teenager’s friends are, their contact details, favourite places, and school. Establish a contact person, or develop business cards that include the contact details of everyone in the family. Make sure your child carries this with them.
3. Discus the issue when your child return back homeIf you child runs away , discuss the issue with them when they return. Don’t be afraid to bring it up, but do wait until they have settled. The primary thing is to let them know you care. Talk to them about what to do should they feel like that again, and develop some safety plans.
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- Not Cross the Boundaries – Why it is important to set up boundaries in the family and how to do it properly
- Negotiating with Adolescents – Learn how to reach agreement on a particular issue.
Getting Help in Sydney
- Enough is Enough Anti-violence Movement – Sutherland (02) 9542 4029. Counselling for parents and youth at risk
- Police Assistance Line: Missing Person's Unit: 1800 025 091
- Family and Friends of Missing Persons : 1800 227 772
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
- Parent Line: 1300 1300 52
Enough is Enough thank you Parent Line for this article.