National Runaway Safeline

Written by Jamin Draves, Volunteer Coordinator

When a volunteer recalls an impactful moment on the lines, they often speak about a youth who was in crisis. There are many stories of a young person facing homelessness or someone reaching out about the abuse they are experiencing at home. The following is a bit of a different situation, though still centered on a teenager running away from home, this call was from his mother.

Parents need support and a place to vent just like youth do. For many parents, it’s hard to find a place to ask questions or seek help for a child who they are having a difficult time managing for fear of judgement. They will also sometimes avoid contact with the police because of the fear of having their child end up with a criminal record. I recently spoke to Matthew, an NRS Volunteer, who connected with someone in the very same situation.

Matthew’s call centered on Billy* a 17-year-old male identified youth. Billy ran away from home and Mom didn’t know where he was staying. Involving the police was not an option in her opinion. It seemed that her son was involved in something potentially illegal and bringing the law into it might push him even further away from her than he’d already become.

She’d been following him on social media. She’d see posts from him and his friends, laughing and hanging out. She didn’t know his exact location, but from what she could gather, he and his friends weren’t being safe and she suspected that they were using and possibly selling drugs. She was worried sick.

Matthew recalls the shaking in the mother’s voice. He recalls taking her through each of our steps of crisis intervention, validating her concerns and getting a picture of what lead up to this point. Her worry was coming through the phone lines, palatable in her voice. She was nervous her child was putting himself in danger and she felt helpless to intervene. Billy wasn’t answering when she tried to reach out, not even to let her know he was safe and cared for. She felt alone in this. She was a single parent and now her son was gone and he wasn’t coming home.

The two talked for nearly an hour, sorting through the situation and addressing every concern. They finally arrived at a point where mom decided on a plan of action. She decided she needed to reach out to the other parents of the teens she’d seen her son involved with and, together with them, make sure these parents were a united front with a unified message. She couldn’t do it on her own, she’d realized. She also realized that asking other parents for help was okay. It seemed that she just needed someone to tell her that. She couldn’t force Billy to come home, but she felt like she could sleep better knowing that there was a unified front helping her through this.

Matthew remarked how much the tone had changed by the end of this call. How a voice that was literally shaking was then filled with confidence and hope. She had a plan now, she was determined. That call will always stick with Matthew. He just hopes that what they talked about that day will stick with her, too.

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality

We’re always looking for volunteers to join our crisis services team. Sign up for an upcoming volunteer orientation to learn more about how you can volunteer on our crisis line. If you have questions, please reach out to me, Jamin Draves, Volunteer Coordinator at


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