MINOT, N.D. — Every year in Minot and Ward County [North Dakota], dozens of teens disappear as runaways. Generally, they return or are found, but organizations that work with youth acknowledge there’s potential danger to young people who take off on their own.
Minot’s runaway numbers dropped to just 74 last year, trailing the five-year average of about 120, said Capt. Justin Sundheim of the Minot Police Department. Through Sept. 19, the department had responded to 71 runaway reports.
In many cases, youth return home on their own within a few days. Reports of runaway youth often are resolved in a few days and, in most cases, within a week, Sundheim said.
Maj. Larry Hubbard, chief deputy with the Ward County Sheriff’s Department, said the county’s experience is similar in that most runaways are found quickly. The county received 27 reports of runaways this year through Oct. 1.
…Children in foster care are at greater risk of running away because of the trauma and the experiences that led to their placement, Sturn said. Preventing a foster child from running away is no different than prevention generally, he said. It involves being proactive.
“It’s talking with your children. It’s making sure the child has a trusted adult that they can go and talk to when there are difficulties,” Sturn said.
A youth who runs away from foster care always is reported and entered into the national law enforcement and missing child databases, and biological parents or legal custodian are notified. Once youth return or are found, they are screened as required by federal law for any evidence of having been trafficked.
More about at-risk youth in North Dakota: