Greyhound, in partnership with the National Runaway Safeline, are offering prodigal children a way home for the new year.
The “Home Free” program brings wayward youth between 12 and 21 home for the holidays by offering free bus tickets home with few qualifications: A call to the NRS helpline at 1-800-RUNAWAY, a runaway report verifying their status and the desire — on both sides — to reunite. It can be used twice, and children under 15 can also get a ticket for a parent or guardian to accompany them.
Since 1987, Greyhound has provided free trips to over 20,000 children and family members through Home Free.
Contrary to popular belief, runaways are more often running away from a bad situation than rebelliously seeking a better one, according to NRS. Most of the time, they are fleeing situations with numerous problems for which they cannot see a resolution. “Runaways are not ‘bad’ kids,” they wrote:
They are dealing with a situation that feels overwhelming, be it family dynamics, bullying, gender identity or being lured from home over the internet. They believe living anywhere else is better; even if this means living on the streets. Their home situation usually involves many problems, not one isolated problem.
Anyone may run away from home when situations become devastating for them. And it is important to understand that a youth’s reason for leaving is unique to that individual. There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ runaway. Runaway youth come from every kind of neighborhood, rich or poor, rural or urban.
If you or someone you know qualifies, they want you to know there is a way to come home. Call 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929), visit 1800runaway.org for live chat, or text 66008.