Why do teenagers run away from home?
Jonas is just one of the young people our Runaways team has worked with. He’d had a difficult home life and had been in trouble with the police, caught up with gangs and felt in over his head – he wanted out, but didn’t know how to do this. He was worried about the threat of retaliation against his mum. He felt a lot of guilt about bringing trouble to his family and decided he ought to be tough enough to sort out himself. Everyone was worried about Jonas and he was put on the local authority ‘at risk’ register.
Meanwhile Jonas was worried about the gang attacking him or his family and tried to live under the radar – it was difficult. Members of the gang went to his school so he stopped attending, but he would still see them on the streets near his home.
One Sunday morning while attending church with his mum he saw some of the gang members and was so scared that he climbed out of the church’s bathroom window and vanished.
Jonas was missing for four months. His mum was fraught, worrying about his safety and not being able to help him, or even talk to him.
When Jonas was picked up by the police 200 miles away from home after being missing, his social worker called St Christopher’s Runaways team and asked us to help support him and his family.
Jocelyn, one of our Runaways team, went to Jonas’ home to speak to him and his mum about what had been happening.
Jonas was clearly very scared. He said the reason he kept running away was that he didn't feel safe in the local area. But while trying to survive on his own he was recruited by drug dealers to collect money they were owed by drug users.
Jonas was subjected to escalating violence and was mixing with some very dangerous and scary people. He didn’t want to live like this but he still felt he was doing the right thing, that by being away from home he was keeping his mum safe.
This had become his normal way of life at just 15 years old.
Jocelyn explored what had been going on and they talked through what options they had as a family and how his mum could help him to be safe. With our support, Jonas and his mum managed to move to a place where they are safe and can start afresh.