Since the beginning of the warmer weather, the number of runaways in Quebec has increased significantly over a very short period. The reasons why youth run away are complex but are generally associated with them attempting to gain some control over their lives. While most runaways return home within a few days, a small number of youth may spend periods of time on the street, in shelters or other unfamiliar environments.
Throughout the summer, the Missing Children’s Network will visit several day camps in the Greater Montreal area to sensitize students about the dangers of running away and provide them with alternatives. In our sessions, we address issues that include sexual exploitation, setting boundaries, healthy relationships, recognizing adults that groom youth for exploitation, navigating safely in today’s wireless world and being a good digital citizen.
Following are some suggestions that may help parents stay connected with their teens:
- Establish healthy communication with your child – remain open and honest;
- Invite your child’s new friends to the house and get to know his social network;
- Talk to your child about the dangers of running away from home;
- Look into enrolling your child in an extra-curricular activity of his choice – this helps build self-confidence;
- Try to get conversations going every day. Ask questions like, “How was your day?” “What did you do?” “Tell me about your new camp counselor/ teacher”;
- Get to know your child’s camp counselor/ – attend school meetings and special events such as plays and holiday shows;
- Reinforce the message that family is important. You can do this in several ways … attend events in your child’s life, share a meal together, plan a family vacation, etc.;
- Try not to overreact when your teen makes a mistake. Making mistakes is part of being a young adolescent. If you over-react, he’ll soon learn not to come to you with problems.
If you have concerns or think that your child might run away, check out our Runaway Prevention Guide or contact us at 514-843-4333.