If you have a child who keeps running away, you need to find a solution that will ensure your child gets the help he or she needs. Your goal should be to keep him or her safe and get to the root issue.
According to the Texas Youth Helpline, when a child runs away from home, it creates a tangled web of legal issues. It can be difficult for anyone else to offer help out of fear of getting in trouble, which can lead your child to end up in dangerous situations. It is important to understand what to do when your child runs away.
Helpers taking in your child
If you expect others to take in your child and keep him or her safe until you can your child back home, you may be disappointed to learn that many people will not do this. It is not that they do not want to help but rather that it is illegal to take a minor into your home with parental consent. Unless you specifically tell someone it is ok for them to help your child, the person could face jail time and a fine once found having custody of your child.
Issues for your child
It is illegal in Texas for a child to leave home. While he or she will not have legal charges, you will end up in court within the juvenile system. It puts a black mark on your child’s record and can impact him or her in negative ways, including the potential for removal from your home or confinement to a facility.
Responsibilities you hold
You have legal responsibility for your child until he or she is 18 years old. The law does only consider children aged 16 or younger as runaways, but if something should happen to your 17-year-old, you would still be legally responsible for it.
The only way to shed your legal responsibility is to emancipate your child, but this is only a valid option for 16 or 17-year-olds. It also requires your child to prove he or she can financially provide for himself or herself and make responsible decisions. It also requires the child to prove it is better for him or her than staying under your control.
Runaway issues are often disruptive and distressing for a family. The best way to help your child is to get him or her help to uncover the underlying reason for running away and then to apply a solution that correctly addresses the issue.