Missing from home and school

“I was shocked when she ran away although, looking back, she was more of a loner than her brother. I now know she has been missing school quite a bit. We stopped talking when my partner moved in but had been really close before that.”

  • Make time for your child to talk about their worries.
  • Let your child know a good education is important.
  • Be honest about things that might be happening in your family.
  • Look for signs that your child might not be happy.
  • Help is available - don’t be afraid to ask.

What the law says

The law says that parents must make sure that their children receive a proper full-time education. It is against the law if your child does not go to school regularly and on time. Children who miss school are much more likely to have problems with their learning and getting the job or college place they would like. They will often find it harder to make friends and they are at much greater risk of getting into trouble in and out of school. If they are missing out on school and lessons, they are much more likely to come into contact with adults or other young people who might want to cause them harm. When children miss school without their parents knowing, this is called “truancy”. Children who truant regularly often do this because they are worried about something. Something might be happening on the way to or from school that is worrying to them. Perhaps someone is bullying them. They might be finding some lessons or subjects too hard (or too easy), or they might be having problems in finishing their homework. Sometimes children will not want to leave home if they are worried that their parent might come to some harm while they are away.

Reasons for going missing

Children from all sorts of backgrounds run away from home for a variety of reasons. Many of us will remember planning to run away when we were younger because we felt unable to cope with our problems or thought that nobody cared about us. We might have thought we had been treated unfairly. If a child goes missing from home, it is usually for a very short period: generally until they think that their parents have noticed they are not there. Often, they will turn up at the home of a friend or relative. When children run away, they are not being naughty - they are trying to tell us that they are unhappy or trying to find out just how much we do care about them. If your child goes missing and you don’t know where they have gone, contact the police.

Warning signs

  • There may be none.
  • Consider whether your child seems to be unhappy.
  • Truanting or being bullied at school.

Consider whether anything has happened in the family that you haven’t talked to your child about. If you think your teenager is skipping school, talk to the school. Make sure that your child knows how important they are to you. If something has gone wrong in the family, don’t let your child think that it’s their fault. To prevent this from happening be alert to any unexplained changes in behaviour. Spend time with them. Be interested in their lives and worries. Know who their friends are. Be careful about their access to the internet.

Useful Contacts

www.missingpeople.org.uk
0500 700 700

Message Home

(for young people to get a message to their parents)
0800 700 740

www.nspcc.org.uk
0808 800 5000

Police

999 or 101