Running for Help Instead of Running Away
Goal: To teach students alternatives to running away.
Materials: Marker board, markers, internet access and/or local phone books, paper, pens.
1. _ Inform the class that they will be discussing running away, and examining if it is a good solution to problems. Ask the class to identify why kids run away. List the responses on the board, then ask the students if running away helped secure lasting solutions to any of the situations listed. Identify to the students that running away can offer very short-term aid, but no long-term help, and can create additional problems.
_ Ask the students to identify what problems can occur from running away and list these on the board. Ask the students to identify the impact of these types of problems on the runaway. Ask students to share accounts of the dangers they or others have encountered while on the run. Identify the hardships of being a runaway including the following: securing a place to sleep, sexual predators, pimps, drug traffickers, finding food, controlling loneliness, being dirty, lacking warm or dry clothes, risk of victimization, lack of money, and the possibility of violence.
2. _ Ask the students to consider why kids would use running away as an answer. Assist them to realize that at the time, running away appears to be the best solution. Inform the class that they will be developing other options that can offer lasting solutions and much less risk than running away. Assist the students to develop a list of alternatives to running away, and include the following:
! Going to a crisis shelter.
! Securing help from a church, adult friend, teacher, or relative.
! Talking to a counselor.
! Calling a crisis hot line.
! Attempt to work out the problem.
! Set up planned time away instead of an unsanctioned absence.
_ Ask the students to use the internet or phone books
to obtain the phone numbers and addresses of their alternative resources. Ask for a volunteer to formalize the information for duplication and distribution to the class.
_ Ask students who are at risk of running away, to select specific alternatives they could utilize, and to create a detailed, written plan. Distribute the paper and pens. Include names, addresses, and email addresses, as well as work, mobile, and home phone numbers. Discuss with students how they would follow-through on actually using these resources. Assist the class to offer specific feedback on the plans.
3. _ Ask the students at risk of running away, to identify the likely situations when they would feel the urge to leave, and aid them to role-play using alternatives to runaway. As possible, identify pro-active ways that the problems that lead to running away, can be addressed before reaching the crisis point.
_ Ask the students who are at risk of running away, to report back at the next class on their success using alternatives.
4. _ Review the major points of this lesson:
! While running away may initially appear to be the best solution to serious problems, it can only offer very brief relief, not long-term solutions.
! Running away often creates many extremely serious, life-and-death type problems. Runaway youth are at high risk of violence, and lack food and shelter; they are ready targets for sexual predators, drug traffickers, gangs, and pimps.
! There are better options than running away.
! By developing a plan, you can best solve your problems with endangering yourself.
! Many runaway youth have encountered problems on the streets that were far worse than the problems they left behind. Runaway youth may find themselves coping with violent rape or forced prostitution; they can become murder and assault victims. It can happen to you; it has happened to many other youth.