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Updated: 1/14/2003 2:29 pm
Every year in the U-S, a million minors run away from home. In most states, it's not illegal, but some runaways get involved in behaviors that are illegal, such as shoplifting, skipping school, loitering, violating curfew, vandalizing, or using or selling drugs. Of course, a child alone in a strange city or on the street is an easy target for thieves, drug pushers, pimps, and other violent criminals who prey on vulnerable kids. If police officers pick up runaways, they'll usually take them home or to a police station for parents to pick up. Here are some tips for finding a missing child. First, make sure you've reported it to your local police. Contact the child's friends and their parents, as well as relatives, employers, coaches, youth group leaders, school, and teachers. Look to see whether any of your credit or A-T-M cards is missing. Check any local teen shelters. One resource that's available if a child has run away, or is threatening to, is the National Runaway Switchboard. Their number is 800-6-2-1-four-thousand. They offer help in areas such as talking to you and providing information, referrals, and a message service for both parents and runaways.

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