Children who go missing from care: A participatory project with young people as peer interviewers

  • Taylor, Julie (Principal Investigator)
  • Hunter, Helen (Co-investigator)
  • Rahilly, Tom (Co-investigator)

Project Details


There is a need for a better understanding of practice to prevent looked after children running away in order to avoid a pattern of unsafe experiences and placement disruptions. Looked after children are significantly more likely than all children to go missing, with those in residential care an estimated three times more likely to go missing. These children face a significant risk of harm, and are likely to be exposed to the risk of alcohol and drugs, criminal and sexual victimisation including prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases and arrest. Little attention has been devoted to the reasons why the child goes missing and there remains concern at ‘lack of awareness among care staff of the serious risks to looked after children who go missing’.

Layman's description

A study to provide information that will better identify children at risk of going missing from care and the support that can be provided to those at risk.

Key findings

The reasons why young people abscond are complex (and individual). However, at a fundamental level, going missing is a key indicator that something is not right in a child’s life. This study has shown how freedom, support and having views heard, are important for young people. Maintaining contact with family (particularly siblings) is important and where it is safe to do so, facilitation of effective contact needs to be improved. Moreover, it is crucial that young people are involved and informed with decisions regarding such processes and contacts.
Effective start/end date1/01/1131/12/12


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