An 11-year-old boy recently ran away from his home in Plain Dealing, Louisiana. He was gone for 25 hours before police found him relatively unharmed. I say relatively because the boy was said to have excessive bruising on his body. As it turned out the boy told police that his father and step-mother were physically abusive to him. DCFS further investigated and 43-year-old Ernest W. Bell III and 30-year-old Kristen M. Downs were charged with child abuse. They were also booked on drug and weapons charges as investigators found weed and guns in the home. The pair are said to have admitted smoking weed in front of the victim. They were also allegedly home-schooling the boy even though they did not register with the state.
This makes me wonder what percentage of runaways were victims of child abuse. When I was a teenager I was very tempted to run away. While my dad wasn’t physically abusive to me or my brother he was extremely verbally abusive to us and was physically abusive to my mom. It was very tempting for me to run away. The only thing that stopped was fear. I knew what happened to kids on the street even at that young age. I thought it was better to stay with the devil I know than the devil I don’t. Obviously that danger doesn’t stop a lot of runaways as they may have no other choice. In too many instances it may be a life or death situation.
My point is that the plight of runaway kids is just another byproduct of child abuse. We view child abuse as such an archaic and brutal practice that you think it would be on the decline yet we still can’t escape it.
If you are a runaway in need of help you can call the National Runaway Safeline at 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929) or visit their website.
Thanks to Louisiana Lori for the tip.