Deciding to run away is one of the scariest decisions youth can make, and often times it’s hard to picture what running away can actually look like. In order to help youth be informed when making a decision like this, we feel it’s important to be familiar with the difficulties and dangers that may arise if they do choose to leave home. It is not our mission to convince them one way or the other. However, by helping youth understand the challenges that can happen when leaving home, they can make the decision that is best for them.
Our free Let’s Talk: Prevention Curriculum contains 14 modules, each dedicated to building important life skills and educating young folks about alternatives to running away. After participating in Module 6: Runaway Reality of our Runaway Prevention Curriculum youth are be able to:
- Consider some of the reasons why a young person might run away;
- Identify essential factors to consider before leaving home;
- Recognize alternatives to running away and how to access necessary resources; and
- Understand the National Runaway Safeline’s mission and services
The first activity in Module 6 is called “Runaway Reality: How Much Do You Know?” and utilizes physical activity to get youth engaged and energized. This activity consists of a series of questions regarding the demographics of the National Runaway Safeline’s callers and what running away can look like. Participants move around the room to indicate which of the multiple choice answers they have selected. After each question, there is brief explanation and discussion of the correct answer. This activity not only informs youth about NRS as an organization, but it also demonstrates to youth what misconceptions they may have previously held about who reaches out for help.
The next activity, “Augusta, Gone: A Family’s Perspective” centers on a true story about a young girl who repeatedly ran away. The group will read the story aloud which includes segments written both from the point of the view of mother and of the daughter. After the reading, youth are asked to reflect on what caused the daughter to run away as well as the feelings the mother and daughter might each be having.
An additional activity provides youth with questions they can ask themselves before they leave home such as:
- What else can I do to improve my home situation before I leave?
- How will I survive on my own?
- What makes running away unsafe?
- If I end up in trouble, who will I call?
- If I return home, what may happen?
Each of these activities work together to help youth make the best decision for themselves. Additionally, these activities reinforce the idea that the National Runaway Safeline is a safe place for any young person in crisis to call. It is important that youth who are struggling know that resources are available to them whether they have run away or not. “Runaway Reality” is a strong reinforcement of that fact.