Saturday, December 27, 2008

Focus: Teen runaways talk about why the flee to the streets

My latest long-term story focuses on a topic that thousands of families face yet is rarely covered on the evening news: runaways.

We rarely ever show a missing teen on the news, and as a newsroom protocol, it's usually only if police suspect foul play. The reason behind the rule is that if we show one, we need to show all of them to be fair.

It breaks my heart to tell a crying mother on the phone that "no, we can't show your missing daughter's picture on the news tonight."

Police deal with thousands of runaway teens every year. Some leave for an hour, while others leave for quite a while longer.

I wanted to find out why teens choose the streets versus their home, so I sat down with two girls, ages 13 and 17, who have often chosen to walk out the door when their emotions get the better of them.

Both girls are from Akron, and both had more good advice than I could fit into this story.

While some are already giving me grief on the standup, take a look .. and I'd appreciate your feedback on the content and how we might advance this topic for future broadcasts. Thanks .. Eric


Village Green said...

"Get on the bus and come to the detention center..." That's the best advice you can give? Who is going to willingly travel to a detention center? How about establishing a "safe house" or something else that doesn't have the stigma surrounding the word "detention"?

buck said...

Eric...Great topic. Props to you for taking this on and trying to make a difference.

Suggestions for future angles: Is this problem predominant in single child families? I got the vibe from the report that this happens a lot in two-parent homes. Maybe divorce or other family issues are triggering the runaway situation.

Do the majority of runaways have two parent or single parent homes?

The subjects you interviewed and the "actors" you showed were all girls. What about boys? How different is it for them (if it is)?

Also, are there young adults in the juvenile justice system who ran away from home? Maybe they could give some insight as to how their situations went from bad to where they are now.

Regarding the production of the segment: I loved your standup. Very catchy.

Honestly, the MTV style production was distracting to me and took away from the powerful subject and interviews. The quick cuts and zooms like the one at 3:15, I thought, were unnecessary. The blurry close up at 3:11 wasn't needed. The double-box effects of the same person during their soundbites didn't do anything butt took attention away from what the subjects were saying. Just my opinion. I think that less is more with a subject like this.

Anonymous said...

We had a runaway living in our house for about a year. Mental health issues with his mother, and his father kicked him out on the streets while he was still a minor. He's a nice kid, and he would be nicer if he'd had a better start in life.

There really should be somewhere better for these kids to go when their homelife breaks down than abandoned buildings downtown.

Brian said...


Channel 3 is broadcasting on a lower lever and hopes to be a full strength by Feb. 17th.

However, depending on her location, she should be able to receive channels 5, 8, 19 & 43 (all are operating at good strength).

I would suggest making a small investment in an antenna. The antenna is the biggest factor in receiving digital.

If you still have problems, you can always call PBS Kent. They seem to be very outgoing for the digital conversion.

Brian said...

Sorry, comment was supposed to be on a different page.

Anonymous said...

Great topic, Eric. We need to see more coverage of such topics regarding young people. But I also feel that you need to offer options other than juvenile court.
Akron has 2 facilities:
Safe Landing Youth Shelter-Boys
39 W Cuyahoga Falls Ave, Akron, OH
(330) 253-7632

Safe Landing Youth Shelter-Girls
587 S Seiberling St, Akron, OH
(330) 784-7200.

Keep up the good work.


Denise Powers Kissel said...

The other piece is to utilize family counseling at community mental health centers, such as Child Guidance/Family Solutions in Akron, as well as Greenleaf Family Services. Sometimes it takes a neutral therapist to facilitate the development of a strategic plan for when emotions (on both sides) override common sense.