Many adults claim that their teenage years were some of the most difficult periods of their lives. Hormones are racing as teens run away from childhood and are catapulted into adolescence and adulthood. Many teens have a strong desire for greater levels of independence and freedom while reshaping their notions of responsibility for themselves and others. Although running away, under most circumstances, does not solve any problems, it can still be important to be informed about the laws regarding runaways for the sake of prevention and other reasons.
Sheltering and Aiding
In Florida, it is unlawful to shelter or aid anyone who is under the age of 18 years old. Specifically, Florida state law, as defined by the Becca Bill, declares that it is against the law for any adult "other than the child's parent or guardian to shelter a runaway for more than 24 hours without permission of the child's parent or a law enforcement officer." Additionally, aiding can also include helping a runaway teen obtain shelter, even if it is in a hotel or motel.
Filing a Report
If a teenager runs away, then the parent or person of knowledge who comes in contact with the teenager is required to file a report with the police. If the teenager is caught by the police, he may be detained at a juvenile detention center until arrangements can be made for his return. The law states that police must accept a report when it is filed and that there is no requirement stating that the teen must be missing for 24 hours. Florida state law requires that all police reports for runaways should be entered into the National Crime Information Center, although the police are not required to begin a search immediately. Children who are believed to be in danger, under the age of 13 or are classified as mentally or physically disabled are put on the Critical Missing Persons list. Amber Alerts are only issued for life-threatening situations and are "intended only for the most serious, time-critical child abduction cases."
Running Away to Other States
If a teenager from Florida runs away to another state or if a teenager from another state runs away to Florida, then the state of Florida and any other state involved will seek to work together in order to "provide for the welfare and protection of juveniles." Florida has adopted this as a measure of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, which many other states have also approved as state law.