Nobody knows why Nora Lindell, the main character of Pittard's novel, went missing 30 years ago, but one theory is that she ran away.
Below is some information on modern-day runaways:
Runaways vs throwaways
A runaway episode is either when a child leaves home without permission and stays away overnight; or a child who is away from home chooses not to come home when expected and stays away one night if 14 years or younger, or two nights if 15 years or older. A thrownaway child is one who has been told to leave the home, or is prevented from returning home, by a household adult for a night and no adequate care is provided.
How big is the problem?
According to the National Runaway Switchboard, between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away every year in the United States (representing about 4-7 percent of the US population aged between 7-17 years old). Although the Department of Justice 2002 report puts the number of runaways/throwaways at the low end of this scale - about 1.7 million per year - it is still an alarmingly high number.
How long are they away?
According to the Department of Justice report, about 33% were gone for a day or less, 77% were gone for less than a week, 7% were away for more than a month, and 21% were reported to police. Almost a quarter traveled 50 miles or more from home; and less than half a percent had not returned home by the time the study data were collected.
Why do they run?
A missing child is perhaps a parent's worst nightmare. There are, however, certain signs that might indicate to the observant parent that a teen may be contemplating running away from home. One is a prolonged and serious inability to communicate between parent and child. Another warning might be that the teen has selected a network of friends who are unsupervised, oppositional, defiant, or involved with drugs and other antisocial behaviors (at least 20% of runaways/throwaways are substance dependant). Finally if the teen becomes increasingly impulsive, irrational, and emotionally abusive toward his/her parents or siblings, a parent should take note.
Conditions within the home can exacerbate the problem. Youth seek to escape from homes where there is physical, sexual or emotional abuse (21% report leaving home because of physical or sexual abuse) or neglect, or where family members abuse alcohol or other drugs. They will also think about running away if family crises - such as divorce or the illness/death of a family member - have been poorly handled. Experts advise parents to request outside help from professional counselors, clergy, or crisis centers if any of these situations exists.
This article is from the March 9, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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