Life as a Teen Runaway

COP [to Girl 1]: You’ve been thinking about running away. Haven’t you? If I were to check your locker at school, would I find a bag or maybe a backpack with clothes, cash, a few special mementos, maybe some granola bars…? Predictably predictable, the “if I had to run away today” stash. You have one, don’t you?

In Kalki rehearsals, we’ve been talking about Girl 1’s relationship to her frequently absent mother, as well as exploring what aspects of her life are making her want to leave home.

National Runaway Safeline statistics show that between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away each year. Economic problems often push teens to leave home, and it’s estimated that 40% of youth in shelters and on the street have come from families that received public assistance or lived in publicly assisted housing. Family issues including “physical and sexual abuse, mental health disorders of a family member, substance abuse and addiction of a family member, and parental neglect” seem to be the biggest factor in teens running away.

homeless

The cast expressed interest in reading first-person accounts from runaway teens, so I’ve excerpted some stories below (click on the heading link to read the full story):

From the Middletown Press:

By the time she ran away, Rhiannon said she had few choices. During a recent interview, the teen said she “absolutely hated going to school” and that she was taunted and traumatized by both adults and her own peers until she could stand it no longer.

“What I went through and endured in my life, (made me internalize) all of the pain and suffering from being bullied for as long as I can remember,” she said. “Losing my mother when I was ten and having feelings of abandonment from any father figure I’ve ever had, really only left me with two choices: to take my own life, or to start a new one.”

From BBC News:

It didn’t help that I was being severely bullied at school. I moved to another school because the bullying had made me a nervous wreck.

But moving just meant I was the new girl at school and I was lonely. It wasn’t long before children started bullying me at the new school too.

Then, when I was about 15, I met a different crowd of people and, for the first time, I really felt liked and had friends.

But my mum didn’t like my friends and one night after an argument about me going out, she said she wouldn’t let me see them again. I ran upstairs, packed a few clothes and ran out.

From The Experience Project:

School wasnt bad but i was always the one to look down on and walked upon. I didnt take anyones **** assure you that but its not a life worth having when you gotta constantly put on a smile for everyone else so they dont see the tortured soul behind it. My parents werent really physically abusive only when i was really really young but they were about as untrusting and emotionally abusive as humans can be. I would get blamed for things i didnt do i would honestly mostly try to do right by people and theyd only see the wrong i could never please them they were unsatisfiable. Alone at night i found myself crying and i decided this would be the last time. So that day after school i took off and hid behind a wal mart( local store) and had no clue what to do next so i called my friend and told him my situation. [sic]

From Runaway Lives:

The feeling of being lonely and unwanted came when I was 13. My mom had been with her boy friend for a couple years and I felt that he got the attention that I was suppose to be receiving so I started looking for love and acceptance outside of home. Me and my mom seemed to never get a long since the day I could remember but we did have our good days.

The first time I ranaway I wasn’t gone long but let me tell you running away is addictive just like a drug. 7 months after the first time I ran away things got harder, my mom was threatening to send me away and I kept getting in trouble at school. My mom is severely Bipolar(manic depressive), so her mood is always changing. It was so rough on me because I didn’t understand what was going on. [sic]

There’s also a Reddit thread that’s worth a look — users are chiming in with their experiences as runaway kids.

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