My 15-year-old daughter ran away from home last Friday evening. She had been in trouble recently for lying and skipping school on a daily basis. I rarely ground her or take away privileges more than just a few days. I’m not about spoiled kids, but I also don’t rule with an iron fist. I actually didn’t realize how much my daughter takes everything she has for granted, including a mom who cares and wants the best for her. So after taking her cell phone away and letting her know she won’t be allowed to go anywhere for a while, she snuck out of the house and disappeared into North Las Vegas.
Don’t expect too much from the police.
I filed a police report the next day. It took the officer about six hours to show up at my house after calling. As I was afraid of, teenagers who voluntarily leave their homes are not a high priority for the police, especially in a place like Las Vegas.
Do try Facebook.
I finally made contact with her Sunday night on Facebook. It was a partial relief to know she is okay. But relief quickly turned into frustration and then anger when she made it clear she is not ready to come home. She seems to be enjoying her unlimited freedom and has no intention of coming back to face any kind of consequences. I offered to have a family friend go pick her up, but of course, she wouldn’t admit where she really was. Facebook gave her location as very near her boyfriend’s address, so I was pretty sure she was there. I sent a quick email to the officer who took the report, as that was the best contact he had left for me.
Don’t tell your teen you know where she is.
I then called the police department again but was told officers would not go there unless I was 100% positive she was there. By now it was midnight and my daughter had told me she would be leaving the area as soon as she logged off. If I’m going to be able to catch her at that location and have the police with me, I can’t tip her off and give her the opportunity to run first.
Do minors have the right to run?
It is now Monday evening. This will be the fourth night that my 15-year-old daughter is somewhere out in Las Vegas without her cell phone and without me knowing exactly where she is or what I can do about it. The sad part is, if I am lucky enough to find her and get her back home, I can’t have her locked up temporarily to discourage a repeat or really prevent her from running again. I could only do that if she has committed a crime. Minor children who run away are not committing a crime. So although it is extremely dangerous for a 15-year-old girl to be running loose in a city like this, the law is not on my side as a parent to prevent her from doing it. Kids have caught on to this and it’s getting harder to keep them from running wild.
Something needs to change.
If you’re thinking, why don’t I physically restrain her from leaving the house, it’s not really an option. I have a physical disability and use a wheelchair. And even if I didn’t, I can’t exactly chain her to the bed. If I violate her rights, I could end up getting charged with some kind of abuse. I even called Child Protective Services for help. Unless I claim I am unable to care for her and essentially make myself the target for wrong doing, there is nothing they can do either.
As a single mother, I feel powerless to protect my daughter from reckless, irresponsible decisions that could easily get her killed. I think society has gone so far to protect children that we have stripped parents, who are trying to do the right thing, of any legal way to prevent children from leaving the home whenever they feel like it. And what about other adults who harbor runaways? Can they not be held accountable for this?