Jordan Krolak and Casey Louise Danielson are both 17 years old, and both have disappeared. The girls were last seen on June 5th, almost three weeks ago. Jordan, according to her family, has had a history of running away. However, this time Jordan has been gone far longer than usual. Authorities have speculated that the two girls ran away together while working at a community event. The police department in Bemidji, Minnesota has few leads in where the girls could have gone. The surrounding counties’ police departments have been assisting with the investigation. The family has voiced fears about human trafficking; Jordan’s aunt voiced her concerns by stating, “Well, there are so many scary things out there, and with trafficking such a high risk now, it is terrifying.” Some have speculated that while the girls possibly left of their own volition, they may no longer have control of their situation.
Risks Faced By Runaway Youth
The National Runaway Safeline between 1.6 million to 2.8 million youth runaway each year in the United States alone. At least 70 percent of runaway youth are endangered on the street; younger runaways are particularly at risk for exploitation. According to several studies, one in seven youth aged 10 to 18 will run away at some point and 75 percent of runaways are female. Youth aged 12 to 17 are more at risk for homelessness than adults.
Homeless and runaway youth are at higher risk for:
− Physical abuse
− Sexual exploitation
− Mental health disabilities
− Substance abuse
Health risks associated with living on the street:
− Greater possibility of severe anxiety
− More likely to experience severe depression
− Higher rates of suicide
Reasons children run away:
− Conflict between them and a parent or guardian in the home (47%)
− Parents told them to leave or didn’t care they were leaving (>50%)
− Runaway youth reported having been sexual abuse before leaving home (34%)
− Runaway youth reported physical abuse before leaving home (43%)
Runaways and Law Enforcement
The media typically follows missing children stories closely when the child has been abducted because they are perceived as being in grave danger. However, when children go missing and are suspected of running away the media pays little attention. According to Polly Klaas Foundation, 90 percent of the children abducted by strangers are returned home safely, while runaway youth are often forgotten about by law enforcement. Typically, runaway youth are viewed as a family problem rather than a larger societal concern. Foundations such as the National Runaway Safeline and Polly Klaas Foundation want people to understand that runaway children are in danger. The law enforcement needs to take runaway youth cases more seriously in order to protect at risk youth from becoming victims of abduction, physical or emotional abuse, sexual exploitation, or human trafficking.
Find more information at: ncsl.org
Things to Keep in Mind
While a child or young adult has chosen to leave, they may not be choosing to stay away. Even if you suspect your loved one has run away still contact your local police department. Children on the street are at higher risk of exploitation and abuse. Legally police department have to begin to investigate missing children immediately.
Author: Tiffany Walker, Lauth Investigations