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Understanding and Responding to Children who Run Away from Home and Institutions

Examine your understanding of runaways and formulate effective responses for better intervention and prevention.

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Explore the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and running away

Although the high rates of running away are widely recognised as a problem in Europe, there is little research on running away and its causes.

This four-week course aims to change the misunderstandings around running away, showing that it is not a problem behaviour, but a sign that something is wrong.

Once you’ve completed this course, you’ll be able to better understand, respond to, protect, and support the children that you work with as a professional, who might be at risk of running away.

Discover the key reasons for running away

Over the duration of this course, you’ll look at how different contexts and circumstances can lead to vulnerabilities and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) associated with running away.

You’ll gain insight into the link between ACEs, trauma, and missing children, and will be able to identify patterns of behaviour and other risk factors for runaways.

Build responses and intervention strategies for runaways

Once you understand the risk factors for running away, you’ll explore effective intervention and prevention strategies for children with a history of running away or that are at risk of running away.

You’ll also look at the role of parents and carers, communities, and, most importantly, peers, in supportive responses for runaways and children at risk of running away.

Join Missing Children Europe in improving protection for runaway children

This course is part of the Running Away: Drivers, Awareness, and Responses (RADAR) project and Missing Children Europe is the project’s lead coordinating organisation.

With their overall expertise and knowledge of child disappearances, Missing Children Europe is ideally positioned to deliver this course, helping to improve the experience of children who go missing.

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Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Welcome to the course

    • Welcome to the course

      In this first activity we will describe what this course is about, why it’s important, and give you the opportunity to introduce yourself and meet the Learning Team.

    • Introduction

      In this step, we will look at the definition of children and introduce the idea that children themselves are not vulnerable, but that vulnerability comes from circumstances and contexts which children experience.

    • Who are runaway children?

      In this step, we will look at what characterises a runaway child, how this is influenced by social misconceptions and stigma, and the impact these occurrences have on runaways and their families.

    • The social misconceptions about runaways

      In this activity, you will explore how social misconceptions about runaways are created and what these misconceptions are. You will also reflect on the impact it has on runaways and their families.

    • End of week 1

      This activity includes a short quiz, a summary of the learning from this week, and an opportunity to discuss your progress and any challenges from this week with other learners.

  • Week 2

    Running away and adverse childhood experiences

    • Why do children run away?

      In this activity we will begin to explore the reasons why children run away and the different patterns that have been identified by research. We will also reflect on which groups of children are more likely to run away and why.

    • The role of Adverse Childhood Experiences

      In this activity we will introduce what Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are and the link with running away. We will then reflect on the different ACEs that runaways experience and how these vary for groups of children.

    • The risks of running away

      We will begin this activity by explore some of the more common risks that runaways face when they are away from home. We will then describe the risk of criminalisation for runaways, why it happens, and how it can be reduced.

    • The impact on runaways and their families

      In this activity we will cover the different ways that running away can negatively impact runaways and their families. We will explore the impact of ACEs and trauma, the impact of mental illness, as well as the longer-term impacts

    • End of week 2

      This activity includes a short quiz, a summary of the learning from this week, and an opportunity to discuss your progress and any challenges from this week with other learners.

  • Week 3

    Supporting runaway children

    • Supporting runaways while away from home

      In this activity we will reflect on the challenges of helping runaways when they are away from home and explore the services that can support them in their communities.

    • Good practices when a runaway returns

      In this activity we will describe good practices that exist across Europe to support runaways and their families. We will explore what these practices are and why they are effective in helping runaways when they return.

    • The power of relationships

      In this activity we introduce the concept of trusted adults and why these figures positively impact children's lives. We will also reflect on the barriers that exist in building trusted relationships between children and adults.

    • Improving the support for runaways

      In this activity we will explore different strategies that can improve the support available for runaways and their families. We will focus on strategies for families, professionals, and law enforcement.

    • End of week 3

      This activity includes a short quiz, a summary of the learning from this week, and an opportunity to discuss your progress and any challenges from this week with other learners.

  • Week 4

    Prevention work

    • The importance of building bridges

      In this activity we will reflect on the importance of connecting children with authority figures, such as police and social services, in order to prevent running away. We will refer to this as 'building bridges'.

    • Improving prevention work for runaways

      In this activity we will explore different strategies that can be applied to prevent running away or reduce the rates of running away.

    • Working collectively with children as a strategy for prevention

      This activity is led by RADAR's child participation expert, Cath Larkins, who will explain, through a series of podcasts, the obligation to and benefit of collaborating with children to improve services and communities.

    • End of week 4

      This activity includes a summary of the learning from this week and an opportunity to discuss your learning over the last four weeks. We will also introduce the next steps before the final course test.

    • Course test

      This is the final step of this course. The course test will provide an opportunity for you to review all that you have learnt throughout this course. There are 10 questions in total. Good luck!

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on the competencies of children and how different circumstances and contexts can make children vulnerable.
  • Describe what characterizes a runaway child and summarize the impact that misconceptions of these characterizations can have on runaways.
  • Reflect on the reasons why children runaway and describe how these reasons vary for different groups of children based on their circumstances.
  • Describe adverse childhood experiences and trauma and summarize why they can lead to running away.
  • Identify and describe patterns of behavior and symptoms of children at risk of running away.
  • Reflect and describe the risks of running away and how it can increase the probability of new adverse childhood experiences or trauma for children.
  • Describe the impact of adverse childhood experiences and trauma on children.
  • Summarize and describe good practices and interventions in response to adverse childhood experiences and running away.
  • Describe the barriers and benefits for children of trusted relationships with adults.
  • Summarize and describe good practices to prevent running away
  • Reflect on the role of communities in safeguarding children.
  • Reflect on the obligation to and benefit of collaborating with children to improve services and communities and describe strategies for working with children.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for all professionals working with children. It will be of particular interest to social workers, teachers, healthcare workers, youth workers, and law enforcement officials who work with runaway children.

This course is also suitable for wider community members such as transport and restaurant staff, as well as families or carers. No prior learning or experience is required.

Who will you learn with?

Eugenia is the Project Officer for RADAR at Missing Children Europe. She has a bachelor degree in Criminology and Applied Psychology and a master's in Children, Youth, and International Development

Aagje is Secretary General at Missing Children Europe. She has a bachelor in Health, a research master in Philosophy & Human Rights & 20 years of experience in research & policy analysis on children.

Who developed the course?

Missing Children Europe

Missing Children Europe is the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children connecting 31 grassroot organisations in 26 countries across Europe. We are all committed to the same goals: to prevent that children go missing, and to protect children from any violence, abuse or exploitation that leads to or results from them going missing.

  • Established

    2002

Endorsers and supporters

endorsed by

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endorsed by

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endorsed by

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endorsed by

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endorsed by

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endorsed by

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