Common red flags for teens thinking about running away

KATY, Texas—After a 13-year-old Katy teenager was found in Mexico City Sunday, questions are swirling on whether this was a case of a runaway-teen or a human trafficking case.

In Harris County, families and kids can seek help through several triad prevention programs with Protective Services, before it's too late.

Matt Broussard is a triad manager with HCPS and said any Harris County family can stop by 24/7 without an appointment.

"You can't just fix the child, you have to engage the whole family in services," Broussard said.

Broussard said kids between 10 and 17 years old, as well as 'troubled teens,' who are going through a crisis are usually the ones most likely to run away.

"If a kid is coming out as gay, it's very common for them to run away. If there is some pretty severe family conflict in the home, or a kid has contact with a child-welfare system, it's very common for them to run away. If the parents and kids are getting into a lot of arguments and disagreements," Broussard said. "Whether it's about the child's dating status, grades, or they may be getting into arguments about regular things like rules, divorce, and things like that, all of that could lead to a child growing distant and wanting to gain independence, even though developmentally, they're still kids," said Broussard.

The goal is to get the child to feel comfortable opening up to a trustworthy adult that can look out for them and perhaps, even be the person they run away to.

"The child may not feel comfortable talking to a parent but they may feel comfortable talking to another family member, or a counselor, or a school personnel, or a church member, someone they can trust and talk about what their issues are," Broussard said. It's also really helpful to have a runaway plan, whether it's to a grandparent's house, another parent's house or even to a family friend. At least then the parent knows where the kids are and that they're safe," Broussard said.

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