First of all, I'm so sorry we missed our writing sample yesterday. We were experiencing Halloween chaos, including scrambling with last minute costume changes, that stole our attention away from the blog topic of the day. We'll make up for it next week. :)
In the spotlight today is a subject I think is very important to address and talk about more. When we hear of 'runaways', our first thoughts may stray to addiction, less-than-safe home environments or a young person who simply feels alone and misunderstood. No matter the reason for a youth to feel that running away is the only answer, there should be a safe helping hand for them to reach out to. And this assistance should be in place before the youth leaves, not just after they've made the decision to move.
Sadly, we have lost too many youth either because they go missing after running away, or an even worse scenario has occurred. There really needs to be a stronger support network for these young people where they can feel safe enough to open up, know that their feelings are heard and validated and have a connection with another person with whom they can develop trust they don't feel they can give.
In one of my books for youth, I shared a quote that someone had said to me during some very dark times in my teens. It goes something like this, "Every human being needs that one person who believes in them, who listens to them with no judgment, who offers their support and guidance and doesn't expect anything in return except seeing the happiness, security and confidence this small gesture elicits. Being that one person can make the ultimate difference in another person's life."
As said earlier, there is a myriad of reasons that a young person may have for not wanting to live where they do. This decision doesn't always stem from a 'difficult teen' who just doesn't want to live by the rules set out in the home. More times than not, these youth are experiencing conditions that impede on their very basic rights of safety, protection, love and care and basic needs. In these situations, a youth may honestly feel that what's 'out there' would be much easier to live with than what's 'right here'. How sad is that?
That's the main purpose in the creation of National Runaway Prevention Month. What can we do as a community and society to help these young people live the happy, healthy and secure lives they deserve to have, but aren't getting?
The National Runaway Safeline is a wonderful place offering direction and valuable information for teens, youth and parents/guardians. They also have a crisis hotline with trained individuals who do nothing but listen and offer resources, if needed.
To me, that's very powerful.
It's probably the number one concern these youth have is that people just aren't listening to what they are saying. Listening is very different from hearing. Anyone can hear something. Listening requires the ability and willingness to engage entirely with what a person is saying. And most times, that's all that is needed to break through, or even safe a life.
See what you can do to make a difference in a young person's life. Be that one person for someone who needs it most. There are very few gifts more precious than that.