As parents, we are always trying to do the best by our kids in the hope they are happy. But how do you know if their not, what are the warning signs to look out for if you fear your child is about to runaway? Tonight we speak to parents with missing children and kids who've runaway. They tell us what to look for and how to prevent your child from heading out the door and down the wrong path
Parents think, "this won't happen to my child". Our children won't runaway, our kids are good kids. But the truth is, good kids find themselves in bad situations. Situations they often blame their parents for.
"Parents always say they know what's best because they have lived longer and yes they have and they are wiser but they don't know what's going on now" says one runaway Jojo.
"I always wonder where I am going to be in ten years, cause you never know, I could be on the streets living like all the bums in town hall" says Stella.
"I think one of the issues for parents is that... Don't be embarrassed to ask for help" says Paul Maulds from the Salvation Army.
35,000 people in Australia go missing every year. Of that number, 95% are found. For those that aren't the situation is grim. Many are young runaways - they have left home for whatever reason and find themselves 'surfing couches'. When that wears thin, there is often only one place to go, the streets. It's a situation no parent wants to see their child end up in.
Leanne Ryan has suffered the pain of her daughter running from home several times. Photos of her daughter are all Leanne has, when for whatever reason Renae packs her bags and disappears.
"I don't like rules. Don't like to be told no. If she told me to do the dishes and nagged about it, I'd just pack and leave."
For now, Renae is back at home with her Mum. But when she does run, her home is a disused toilet block.
"It is scarey, the thought of sleeping on the street is scary... Because you don't know if you will wake up in the morning and you are with some random man you've never met" adds Renae.
"You see kids run from home often because there is problems and what they find in the street are bigger problems." Paul Maulds works with the Salvation Army's Oasis Refuge, a place of last resort for runaway kids looking for a safe place to bed down.
"It is a cold hard place, there are people out there, predators, it's the only word I could use, who are looking for vulnerable young people who are out � out their looking for kids, it is not a place to be" adds Paul.
Paul spends nights looking for kids who need help in a harsh world.
"My mate is stuck on heroin. He is an addict and he sells himself to supply his addiction. I am not even joking. It sounds straight out of a TV scene but it is no joke. He actually does that." James is 17, he and his friends ran away from home as early as 12 years old.
"Most kids will sleep on the streets first than come here [refuge]. Because if you come here there is that paranoia that you are going to get caught, you are going to get into trouble" says James. "If a kid really wanted to get away, they could just catch a train all day. We used to just sleep on trains when we didn't... we jumped a train to Newcastle. Me and Hayley actually caught a Citilink train, jumped it to Queensland and back."
With summer approaching, runaways are on the rise and harder to find as they don't need the shelter of refuges.
Federal and State Police, charities and government agencies play a crucial role in finding runaways, often they're found quickly but as time drags on, a parent's distress is palpable.
Elizabeth's daughter has been missing now for 3 weeks - she is barely a teenager.
"Not hearing her voice or seeing her in the morning or at night. Even having an argument with her would make me happy right now" says Elizabeth.
Tiana left home following an argument which led to her Mum confiscating her diary. However, Elizabeth believes other influences have been luring her daughter away.
"The web with children and these messages and these beebos, something has to be done. Children are a lot smarter than we give credit for when it comes to technology and they can hid things" says Elizabeth.
Elizabeth has turned to the web herself, using Facebook as a compliment to exhaustive searches for Tiana.
"We have been searching day and night. Train stations, bus depots, streets, places we think she might be, places where kids hang out� and nothing... Nothing."
At the Oasis shelter a ray of hope when these kids believe they have seen Tiana in the city... James offers to help us search some familiar haunts.
"I'd say three places, I'd say Town Hall City, like Hyde Park, Cook and Phillip where the sleeps are, central. And Bondi Junction is one of the biggest street places I know" says James.
But when we look, Tiana is nowhere to be found... it's just a small taste of her mother's anguish.
"I really really really want you to come home. Please, I love you and I miss you" please
Families and Friends of Missing Persons Unit
Phone: 1800227 772
Phone: 1800 813 750