After they return

Welcoming the young person back

When a young person returns from running away, we must quickly follow the procedures in place in our respective environments to confirm their return. The response to their return becomes one of the main factors influencing whether they run away again. The approach we take has a major impact on our ability to re-establish the relationship with the young person. When we welcome them back to their home, it is important to express our relief at seeing them again. As such, it is critical that we address their needs, including:

Basic needs (eating, sleeping, feeling safe, washing)

Specific needs resulting from the experience of running away (physical and mental health)

It is also beneficial to:

Offer them a welcoming space, showing our openness to dialogue.

Respect their pace and let them express themselves as they wish.

Discussion is definitely needed. Ideally, the topic should be raised by the young person with an authority figure. This makes it easier to provide a considerate response. By letting them discuss their experiences and feelings first, the more sensitive information can come out on its own.

Intervenants - Apres la fugue
Intervenants après la fugue
Intervenants après la fugue

Thinking about the meaning of running away

By offering the young person a warm welcome, they will feel heard, and their return to their home environment will reassure them. After giving them the opportunity to tell their story at their own pace and in their own way, a more in-depth discussion can be initiated with them, involving their parents as well as partners who have additional information. The importance of recognizing the young person’s subjective expertise, as well as their power to act regarding their situation and what they are experiencing, assumes its full meaning here. By supporting them together, we arrive at innovative solutions and alternative practices.

Here are a few ideas to explore, while remaining open and accepting the young person’s positive and negative experiences:

What did the young person experience while away?

  • Feelings and emotions
  • Events and experiences
  • Solicitations and worrisome situations

What was the meaning or message of running away?

  • Who the message was intended for or who the runaway was targeting
  • Needs that running away fulfilled

What did the young person learn by running away?

  • Lessons to consider
  • How the experience influences the young person’s future plans
  • Possible solutions to consider