Teens leave home to escape pain

Photo by Atticus Ludwig

Zoe Shancer, asst. features editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






After being denied that second cookie for dessert, a child stuffs his pillowcase with his favorite clothes and toys, swings it over his shoulder and heads for the door with a determined gaze. He makes it as far as the driveway before he realizes it is cold and getting dark. At this point, he has already forgotten why he was upset, and he heads back inside.

It is a common occurrence for younger kids to want to run away from home over small issues, but when a teen decides to leave home, they may be trying to escape serious problems. Whether running away or getting kicked out, some South teens have left their houses to escape troubles in their lives.

Social worker David Hartman recommends that students struggling with problems at home talk to friends, other adults, family members, coaches, or social workers, as he thinks they can all provide equally valuable roles.

Junior Marie Roder* ran away from home due to family problems. She used to live with her father in Indiana but ran away to her mom’s house last year.

“[My dad] has anger issues,” Roder said. “He has [had them] throughout his life, and they just got worse at that time. He would hit me and punch me and things like that.”

Roder’s school expressed concern when she came to class with swollen eyes one day. She said she had gotten in a fight, but they wanted to file a report. Roder then decided to run away.

“I left at like two in the morning,” Roder said. “[…] I brought everything. All my clothes, all my medicine, everything. I was not  going back.”

Roder made her way to her mother’s house, which was in Wisconsin at the time, via cabs and trains, getting help from friends along the way. She kept her phone off most of the trip because she didn’t want the police to track her, although her father tried to contact her after she left.

“He did send me texts telling me to come back, and that it would all be okay,” Roder said. “But I knew it wouldn’t.”

Roder moved in with her mother, and since then, has relocated to Glenview. She has visited her father a few times to see if he has changed but believes she hasn’t seen improvement.

Senior James Grey* crossed state lines as well when running away to his cousin’s house on the Kentucky-West Virginia border.

“It was after my sister left for college, and I was struggling with a drug problem,” Grey said. “I didn’t really know what I was thinking; I just kind of woke up and left.”

Grey was gone for about 24 hours before he got to his cousin’s house.

“I took all the money that I had and bought a one-way train ticket,” Grey said. “The station in Kentucky was still a six-hour walk to my cousin’s house, and I just went for it.”

Once he arrived, his cousin called Grey’s parents and convinced them to let him stay another week before he returned home.
Junior Fay Hull * also ran away from home as a way of escaping stress within her household.

“The first time I ever ran away was in eighth grade, and that was because [my parents] said I couldn’t hang out with my best friend anymore, and she was pretty much my only friend, so I actually ran away to her house,” Hull said.

Hull noted that her parents didn’t look for her after she ran away. When this occurred, Hull came to a realization about her relationship with her parents.

“They should care more about me,” she said. “They should be wondering where I am.”

Hull didn’t come home for a week after this. About a year later, she ran away again for a few days after getting into an argument with her parents and having her phone, computer, and debit card taken away. A year after, Hull ran away for a third time when her parents forgot about her birthday.

“I have always had a bad relationship with [my parents],” Hull said. “They just treat me differently than my [siblings]. They think that anything that goes wrong in my family, I’m to blame.”

According to Hull, she was also recently kicked out of her house after getting into an argument with her parents. They told her they didn’t want to see her anymore and that she should pack her bags and leave. Hull stayed with a friend before returning home after four days. When Hull returned, she said her parents did not really acknowledge her.

Roder has spent more time away from home as well, as she was also kicked out of her house recently and moved into a friend’s house in a trailer park. Her mother told her to leave due to an argument over her father’s attempts to contact her.

The family she stayed with for a month was supportive and caring, according to Roder.

“[My mom and I] would talk [while I was there], and she would take me to school sometimes,” Roder said. “I came over for dinner a few times. It was a process. We took it as a chance to work on ourselves.”

The decision for Roder to return to her home was mutual, she said, as her mom wanted her to come back and she felt she was ready as well.

“I think it was a growing experience,” Roder said. “I did miss her while I was gone, and she missed me. We realized things that we didn’t realize before.”

Hartman believes it is often difficult for kids to reach out for help but talking to someone can be very beneficial.

“Unless you deal with the emotional stuff, it is very difficult to problem solve,” Hartman said.

Social workers can be very valuable resources, according to Hartman, because they don’t have the obligation to tell anyone of a teen’s problems, but they can if they need to.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email