RADAR Full Research Report - Running Away: Drivers, Awareness, and Responses (April 2021)


Executive summary

Runaway children, a vulnerable group under the radar

The number of runaway cases in Europe have been increasing annually. In 2018, runaway children made up 58.2% of missing children reported to the hotlines compared to 51% in 2014 (Figures & Trends, MCE)1 . Once on the streets, runaways face more risks to their safety and long-term wellbeing. In the UK alone, as many as 5,000 children a year cope by stealing, drug dealing and prostitution (Social Exclusion Unit, 2002)2 , and are increasingly vulnerable to sexual and criminal exploitation. A leading problem in the fight to prevent running away is the misperception of the phenomenon as a behavioural problem and the idea that runaway children are ‘voluntarily missing’; this term negates the complexity and nature of the phenomenon. Previous research and the findings from the four studies in this report show that running away is often a symptom of one or more adverse childhood experiences in the child’s life.

The RADAR project: Drivers, Awareness and Responses

RADAR (Running Away: Drivers, Awareness, and Responses) is a European project on running away coordinated by Missing Children Europe and launched in March 2020. The aim of the project is to achieve genuine progress in the awareness, understoncfing, and responses for children running away and to provide them with better protection and care across the EU.

RADAR's methodology consists of conducting Europe wide research to deepen knowledge on the root causes and consequences of running away with a view of disseminating the knowledge obtained through a Massive Open Online Course for professionals across Europe. The project also aims to advance policy work in the area of child protection for runaway children. The project is steered by six European partners, a Board of Professional Experts from different fields of work and a Young People's Board with 8 young people who have experience of running away.

This report details the results of the project's Europe wide research conducted in the form of

• Quantitative data on runaways obtained from Missing Children Europe's chid hotlines and Chid Helpline International's child helplines

• Focus groups with 28 children and young people with experience of running away in 4 European countries

• A Delphi study with 28 professional stakeholders in Europe to explore opportunities and best practices for runaway children.