November is National Runaway Prevention Month
National and community organizations across the country are coming together in November to recognize the urgent need to keep young people from running away or becoming homeless. National Runaway Prevention Month began November 1 with a Social Media Day of Action, meant to raise awareness of the issues affecting runaway youth, who may be more likely than their peers to experience or witness violence, sexual exploitation, substance abuse and other problems.
The National Runaway Switchboard, which is funded by the Family and Youth Services Bureau to help keep America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the street, cosponsors the month each year. In addition to spreading the word online, hundreds of nonprofits, cities and towns will hold community meetings, make public service announcements, wear green socks (the month’s emblem), and bring greater attention to the reasons young people run away from home each year and the ways communities can help them.
Resa Matthew, who directs the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, says family conflict is the number one issue among young people who have run away or become homeless.
“FYSB-funded basic center programs not only provide emergency shelter to young people with nowhere else to go,” Matthew says. “These programs also work with families every day to mend relationships and improve communication and coping skills. We believe strengthening families and preventing abuse is key to keeping young people from running away.”
Other FYSB programs reach out to youth on the streets, meeting their basic needs, like food and clothing, and helping them get the physical and mental health services they need.
“Every young person should know that by calling 1-800-RUNAWAY, they can get help reuniting with their family or be connected with the nearest youth shelter,” adds Curtis Porter, the RHY program manager. “November is National Runaway Prevention Month, but help is available year-round.”