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A nonprofit hotline for kids in need

Words by Tess Becker

Home life isn’t always easy. Financial struggles, abuse, and a whole host of other circumstances can lead to kids and teenagers wanting to run away, to escape. Those kids often find themselves in dangerous situations away from home – going missing entirely.

The National Runaway Safeline is an organization that provides resources to those kids and extended families to keep them as safe as possible.

The safe line serves primarily as the national communication hotline for youth in crisis and homelessness across the country, but in its over 50 years of existence, it has evolved to bring other resources for parents and guardians of the youth in crisis as well. 

They run essentially in two mediums, their primary crisis hotline, 1-800-runaway, where people can call for instant crisis help, and their online portion which features multiple forums, and a live chat feature, which has become one of their most popular assets.

“We often see younger youth reaching out by our chat service versus hotline,” Jess Jasurda, Director of Crisis Services for National Runaway Safeline tells Smiley News. “I know, voicemails and talking on the phone is scary, for me personally, but especially when we think about how often young people are engaging online, texting with each other, etc. that really offers a low-barrier way to connect with a safe and supportive adult and a free and confidential way to so it's a little bit of what we do there.”

The safe line is funded through the Family and Youth Service Bureau. Their primary demographic is from the ages of 12 to 21 but sees a much larger proportion of the people they serve between 15 to 17.

“Think about yourself when you're 15 to 17,” Jess says. “That's an age group where we know that a lot of young people are learning about themselves, establishing what it means to be independent from mom, dad, family, and really tried to navigate some tough situations.

“Just paying attention to the increase in younger youth reaching out is something that, that we're really taking a look at. When we think specifically about young people who are 15 and under, we've seen a 53% increase over the past three years.”

The service has changed over the years and has really adapted to whatever time they were dealing with. “We've grown so much and have really added a lot of different facets to our programming to move towards the place where we know that young people are reaching out and getting support in this way,” Jess says.

“So each year, we impact and have the opportunity to connect with over 125,000 young people and so that's across both of our hotline and our digital resources.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs