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Research > Runaways & LGBTQ youth

The Runaway Youth Longitudinal Study

Posted on 23rd February, 2012, by Farrin in Researchers.

The National Runaway Switchboard (NRS) recently released a longitudinal study characterizing runaway youth and describing the long-term effects of running away. One aim of the study was to identify differences between runaways and non-runaways in terms of demographics and risk factors that might lead to running away. The second aim was to understand the relationship between running away as an adolescent and the health, education, and economic outcomes in adulthood. The data set spans 15 years with the most recent sample's age range between 24-32 years. The findings are extensive and can be viewed in full here. With our focus on LGBT health and development, we highlight a few relevant issues:

1. Sexual Orientation: The highest run away rate was reported by bisexuals at 21.7%-almost 3 times higher than the rate for heterosexuals. Individuals who described themselves as 100% heterosexual had the lowest run away rate at 7.6%.

2. Abuse: Verbal abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse are all correlated with higher run away rates.

  1. Individuals verbally abused are over twice as likely to run away from home (11.7%) as compared to those who were not (5.3%).
  2. Likewise, those that were physically abused were 3 times more likely to run away (17.4%) than compared to those who were not (6.3%).
  3. Sexually abused children are over twice as likely to have run away (17%) as those who were not (7.9%).

3. Suicide Risk: Running away from home as an adolescent increases the odds of having suicidal thoughts as an adult by 51%. Suicide attempts are also higher with runaways having over three times higher odds as non-runaways of attempting suicide as adults.

4. STD Risk: Former runaways are 53% more likely to report having a sexually transmitted disease as an adult than non-runaways.

To address these issues locally, the NRS reported last week on their twitter feed that Chicago Public Schools will adopt and integrate the NRS Runaway Prevention Curriculum (available for download).

The National Runaway Switchboard also has an array of helpful resources for researchers, youth, parents, educators, and volunteers.

Source: Benoit-Bryan, J. (2011). The Runaway Youth Longitudinal Study. Retrieved from http://www.1800runaway.org/assets/1/7/NRS_Longitudinal_study_report-_FINAL.pd