New scheme in Scotland aims to warn youngsters of risks of running away

Scottish Government cash is being invested into efforts to help struggling youngsters considering running away from home.

A total of £30,000 has been awarded to two charities – Missing People and Barnardo’s – to educate vulnerable young people on the dangers of going missing.

Almost two-thirds of police missing persons investigations involve a child or young person – with these making up 64% of such cases in 2017-18.

The project also aims to encourage more of those who are considering running away to instead seek help and support.

Young people themselves will be involved in the work in a bid to ensure the initiative is “tailored for the right audience and has the most impact”, Barnardo’s said.

Community safety minister Ash Denham said: “Almost 23,000 missing person investigations were conducted by Police Scotland in 2017-18 – nearly two-thirds involving children and young people.

“Whether young people are struggling with their mental health or experiencing difficulties at home, it is important that they understand the dangers of running away and can access professional help and support so they know going missing is not their only option.”

While most missing youngsters are found safely within 48 hours, Ms Denham stressed the Government is “determined to continue to improve how we safeguard and support the most vulnerable”.

She added: “That is more important than ever at this time of year when the end of the festive period can give way to stresses and strains in relationships.”

Susannah Drury, policy director for Missing People, said: “Only one in 20 young people in Scotland who run away reach out for professional help. Most young people simply don’t know that support is available to help them stay safe, including Missing People’s 24/7 free and confidential Runaway Helpline.

“We are delighted to be working with Barnardo’s Scotland and young people themselves to develop this resource that will inform young people about how they can stay safe and get the support they need if they are thinking about running away, or have been reported missing.”

Daljeet Dagon, national programme manager for child sexual exploitation for Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “We’re very pleased to be working with Missing People and young people to develop this new resource.

“The experience and perspective that young people bring to the resource will ensure it is tailored for the right audience and has the most impact.”

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