Website attracts teens contemplating running away
The Runaway Guide is a website getting double takes by parents. It's supposed to be a website for adults seeking adventure, but it is also attracting kids who are thinking of running away.
"The site name obviously stems from the fact that I myself was a runaway who traveled around the world. It is an integral part of my life and my story," said creator Leif Harum.
But for one parent who knows the anguish of his child running away, Bob Beery said he knows the difference.
"He calls it a runaway guide but it's not about runaways," said Beery, whose sun was a runaway.
Beery said when he remarried, his son Russ struggled to fit into their blended family.
A short time later Russ started running away from home.
"For the better part of two or three years, there were long periods of time where we weren't sure where he was," said Beery.
Russ finally got help through Urban Peak.
"We see a lot of kids come from different places," said Urban Peak Deputy Director Audrey Field. "We see youth who are exiting out of jail, aging out of foster care, who've been asked to leave by their parents, their parents are homeless too and they have nowhere to go," she said.
Field said Russ is among roughly 150 teens they help every year. Russ went on to graduate from college.
According to UP, between 1.6 million and 2.8 million kids run away each year. Sadly, 80 percent of those runaway girls report being sexually or physically abused.
Harum said he receives hundreds of emails a week from kids contemplating running away.
He said he replies to everyone. "In them I try to understand their situation, give them strength, convince them that there will be plenty of time to travel in the future and ask them to wait until then. I always advise kids under 18 who contact me specifically not to run away. I have a unique perspective, kids can relate to me, and this puts me in a position where I can actually help," said Harum.
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