One of the things that I enjoy most about being a blogger and podcaster, is getting the opportunity to speak to someone who is an expert in a particular area, not only because of the research they’ve done, but also because they have lived through the experiences that they are advocating for.
Marnie Grundman contacted me, looking for opportunities to raise awareness to the plight of homeless youth and to help destigmatize runaways by sharing her story. After some conversations back and forth via email, I quickly became excited to talk with her and do all I could to help bring attention to what she’s dedicated her life too; advocating for runaway children and youth.
Every year between 1.6 – 2.8 MILLION children runaway. Marnie was one of those children from the age of 13 -17, living on the streets and doing all that she could to simply just survive from one day to the next. Her story of “surthrival”, through suffering, of rising up against all odds and discovering an appreciation of life will inspire you and encourage you.
I had the honor of chatting with Marnie, and during our conversation I was enlightened as to just how much we had in common as survivors. When we think of children who run away, often times we may not consider what the true reason is behind their flight. Perhaps the default response is something along these lines:
- They’re just being rebellious.
- They don’t appreciate what they have.
- They got mixed up with the wrong crowd.
- They must be addicted to drugs.
The sobering statistics show a different story: By far, the most prevalent type of reported missing children in the United States are runaway/thrownaway children. According to the National Runaway Safeline (Formerly the National Runaway Switchboard,) between 1.6-2.8 million youth runaway each year in the United States. Children can begin running as young as ages 10-14. The youngest are the most at-risk for the dangers of street life.
- 47% of runaway youth report conflict between them and a parent/guardian in the home.
- Over 50% of youth in shelters or on the streets reported that their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving but did not care.
- 80% of runaway & homeless girls reported having been sexually or physically abused.
- 34% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported sexual abuse before leaving home.
- 43% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported physical abuse before leaving home.
Sadly, these children and youth see that running away is the only option, and the reasons are anything but “just being a rebellious kid”. As Marnie shares, these children are escaping the suffering in hopes of trying to find a new life, no matter what the cost.
Marnie works with Adult Survivors of Abuse/Trauma, Social Workers, Child Advocates, Homeless Youth Organizations and Advocates, Recovering Runaways, Families of Missing and Runaway Children, Missing Children Organizations, Educators, and those who are looking for ways to help recovering runaways. I am just so honored to do my part to help share her story. I was enlightened, inspired, and educated about what it means to be a runaway and how much help these innocent youth need.
I hope that our conversation will encourage you, and inspire you. Be sure and follow Marnie on her website and on Twitter, Facebook, and SoundCloud. If you are fortunate enough to see her in person or catch her on a radio or television show, I would love to hear about it!
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media images created by Matt Pappas.