16-year-old girl found safe and well after running away

A family in the Southern United States are delighted to be reunited with their 16-year-old daughter who had been missing for four days, after running away from her foster home.

Jessica* ran away because she felt unhappy due to her foster parents being too controlling. Hope for Justice’s investigators know only too well that running away from home is a known risk factor for commercial sexual exploitation in young people. Around one-third are victims of commercial sex trafficking, according to the National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth. So our team stepped in when they saw on the local news that Jessica was missing.

Our team contacted Jessica’s family and began searching for her straightaway. We found her safe and well at a friend’s house nearby. We returned her to her family, and then worked with Jessica and her parents to make them aware of the dangers of running away and how this puts young people at much higher risk of being trafficked and exploited.

Dr Richard Schoeberl, US Team Leader at Hope for Justice, said: “We were all very relieved to find Jessica safe. While she had been missing from home for four days, thankfully she came to no harm. But it’s vital that young people and their families alike are aware of the dangers of children running away, as sadly the story often has a very different ending.”

*Name has been changed to protect individual’s identity