Don’t Send Your Teen to the Missing Persons List

Regarding the horrible revelation in Cleveland in May, 2013 when 3 women who had been held captive for ten years were rescued, several news outlets reviewed how the missing-persons list works. “Hundreds of thousands of people are reported missing each year,” the Wall Street Journal stated, “the vast majority of whom turn out to have run away, FBI data show.” Those numbers are misleading. Millions of children run away every year Actually, the data is worse. According to the National Runaway Safeline which obtained statistics from peer-reviewed journals, “between 1.6 and 2.8 million (that’s not a typo) youth run away in a year. 47% of runaway / homeless youth indicated that conflict between them and their parent or guardian was a major problem.” “Over 50% of youth in shelters and on the streets reported that their parents either told them to leave or knew they were leaving but did not care.” “32% of runaway and homeless youth have attempted suicide at some point in their lives.” Why do they run away? Why do they get into drugs, sex, and cutting? Is there a connection among all these youth problems? To get an idea of the answer, let’s look a little closer at the history of two of the three girls who were held captive for a decade and how they came to be kidnapped. First, let’s look at Amanda Berry, the brave girl who orchestrated their escape. According to news reports, she had piercings in her ears and eyebrows and liked Eminem’s music. What do runaway children want? For those who wouldn’t know Eminem from an Oreo, Wikipedia explains...

Neglected Children on the Playground

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish Journal The boys, about 7 years of age, were racing up the slide and skateboarding down. The lone girl enthusiastically ran up and down with the rest of them. My grandson, whose hand I held tightly, was fascinated by the commotion, fascinated by what it could mean to be “big.” He pulled on my arm and I let him lead. I’m not the overprotective type. I encouraged him to climb the ladder at the other side of the play structure, and he approached the slide. His thumb was in his mouth, a sure sign of intense concentration combined with feelings of insecurity.   He longed to go down the slide, I could see, but, of course, being not even three years old, he planted his little feet a few paces away from the wild kids. “C’mon,” I coaxed him, “you can take a turn.” I patted the slide. All to no avail. My soft words neither moved him closer nor moved the little rowdies away.   Suddenly, a flip-flop whizzed past us and a frightened—and barefoot—child lunged for it. The other children laughed as the flip-flop went the other way. My eye scanned the circumference of the playground. There were absolutely no adults anywhere. This was too much for me. Rowdiness, I can tolerate; they are children after all, and without supervision to boot. But no shoes? The grandmother in me took a back seat and the mother in me stepped forth. “Where are your shoes?” I demanded of the little rowdy.   Looking into my eyes, he replied, pointing to a...

Substance Abuse & Family Abuse–They’re Connected

Substance abuse and addictions do not occur in a vacuum. It is not merely the result of vulnerable kids becoming involved with the wrong crowd. If only it were that simple. In fact, substance abuse is more a symptom of the real problem than “the” problem. The real problem falls in one of three categories: abuse, neglect, or failure to discipline. Abuse Physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse will inevitably lead to later scars. Even people who cope well and rise above it are forever hurt by their horrible experiences. For some individuals, the best way to blot out the pain is substance abuse. When chemicals anesthetize emotions, a person can go on with life. There isn’t much quality to that life, but it is bearable. Neglect Neglect does not mean leaving a child without food-although that too happens. Neglect may simply mean being too busy to have formed a relationship with one’s child. My hunch is that Noelle Bush’s history involves this category at least [She is the daughter of former Governor of Florida, caught with drugs]. As children grow, parents become models for them of how to function in the world. Children also discover who they themselves are through the feedback they get from their parents. When the small girl constantly picks out the frilly clothes, her parents may say, “She’s all girl.” Those remarks help that little girl define her personality. Parents who ignore their children not only fail to give this feedback that is vital to their personality development, but instead give a most undesirable message: You are not important enough for us to pay...
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