Understanding the teen runaway 'epidemic'

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 4/8/19

It seems hardly a week goes by without local law enforcement agencies asking for the public’s help in finding a missing juvenile. With so many youngsters — mainly teenagers — reported missing on a regular basis, law enforcement has had to develop new strategies to find them and bring them home safely.

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Understanding the teen runaway 'epidemic'

Posted

It seems hardly a week goes by without local law enforcement agencies asking for the public’s help in finding a missing juvenile.

With so many youngsters — mainly teenagers — reported missing on a regular basis, authorities have had to develop new strategies to find them and bring them home safely.

According to Lt. David Shoemaker, a detective with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, since 2017 there have been approximately 80 runaway cases assigned to BCSO for followup. Among those, all from 2017 were closed and all but two from 2018 were closed. The 2019 figures can change on an almost-daily basis.

As for why youngsters are running away, Shoemaker said most “are kids that are facing some kind of disciplinary action” from parents, school or law enforcement.

Shoemaker added that based on interviews with teens who are found and return home, there is no evidence to support any internet-based runaway “challenge” and none have cited human trafficking as the reason for their disappearance.

“We’ve not got anything that leads us to any social media challenge,” Shoemaker said, adding the teens “are not coming home on their own — these kids are being found.”

Read more about how law enforcement is dealing with teen runaways in an upcoming edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.

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