Missing children - guidance for young people

Advice and support for people who run away from home.


About running away

If you or someone you know runs away and no one knows where you are, whatever the reasons for running away or disappearing, you will be reported as 'missing'. You will be 'missing' until you are found and you are thought to be safe. If you stay out later than you are supposed to, but your parents or carers know where you are, you will not be seen to be missing.

There can be many reasons why you or someone you know might feel that running away from home is the only solution to your problems. Some of these reasons might be:

  • You don't get on with your family
  • You feel unsafe at home
  • You have other problems outside of your home, being bullied or involved in drugs, etc.
  • Some children and young people run away because they are being abused, neglected or experiencing violence where they're living.

By running away you could put yourself in a lot of danger. Sleeping rough is very dangerous for young people. Below are just some of the examples of difficulties that you might face:

  • You could become a victim of street crime or get involved in committing crimes
  • Have increased health issues
  • Find it hard to go home, as you might think or worry that you will be in trouble

Whatever the problem, there are many people that can help you, and it's never too later to try and sort out your situation. Getting help whilst you are still living at home is usually a better option than running away.

How to get help

If you're thinking of running away or have already run away, speak to someone you trust to see if they can help. There are also websites (listed below) that can provide useful information.

If you feel you have to get out straightaway due to your own safety, for example someone with whom you are living is being violent or abusive towards you, you must get help immediately. If you are in such a situation, you can speak to a social worker by contacting:

Wandsworth Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
2nd Floor Town Hall Extension
Wandsworth High Street
SW18 2PU

Telephone: 020 8871 6622
Email: mash@wandsworth.gov.uk

Outside of normal office hours (after 5pm weekdays or on weekends): 020 8871 6000.

In an emergency contact the Police by calling 999.

Childline is the free confidential helpline for children and young people in the UK.  You can call them on 0800 1111.

Shelter provides a free, national telephone advice line staffed by trained housing advisers. Ring 0808 800 4444 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday, and 8am to 5pm on Saturday to Sunday.

Call National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 24.

You may also find some useful sites on our Links and resources page.