Bridging Families and Schools to Prevent Youth from Running Away From Home




running away from home, school safety, bullying, positive youth development, social capital


Running away from home is a serious problem among American youth. It has been linked to numerous negative social, psychological, and behavioral outcomes. It is well-established that family dysfunction is one reason that youth run away from home. However, less research focuses on how both families and schools influence youths’ likelihood of running away from home. Drawing from a sample of 4,546 youth from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I examine how youths’ perceptions of their schools’ safety, experiences with bully victimization, and bonds with their families and their schools predict the likelihood of running away from home. I find that youths’ negative perceptions of their schools’ safety increase the likelihood that they will run away from home. Additionally, I discover that youth who have been the victims of bullying are more likely to run away from home compared to their peers who have not been bullied. My findings also suggest a cumulative effect between youths’ perceptions of unsafe schools and experiences with bullying, suggesting that youth are most likely to run away from home when they feel unsafe at school and have been the victim of childhood bullying. These findings are important because they have implications for policy development. My findings suggest that (a) promoting a positive and inclusive school environment and (b) helping youth foster stronger relationships may help deter youth from running away from home.  

Author Biography

Monica Bixby Radu, Southeast Missouri State University

Dr. Monica Bixby Radu is an assistant professor of sociology at Southeast Missouri State University in the Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work, and Sociology.  Dr. Radu’s work has been published in American Behavioral Scientist, Child Development Perspectives, Sociology Compass, and The Journal of Public and Professional Sociology among other scholarly journals and edited books. 


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