Kansas has specific laws dealing with runaway children and teenagers. If a child under the age of 18 leaves home without permission or consent, the police will pursue that child. The child will then be kept in police custody until a decision can be made about the child's future. In cases of runaway children and teens, Kansas police will attempt to determine if the child was in any way abused or hurt at home, causing the child to run away.
Definition of Runaway
In the state of Kansas a runaway is any person who is under the age of 18 years old and leaves home without the permission of his parents or legal guardians. This definition is stated in the Kansas State Legislature Criminal Codes, Chapter 21. If the minor in question has been emancipated (legally declared an adult by a court) or married with parental consent, runaway laws do not apply.
Police Response to Runaways
The Juvenile Justice Authority of Kansas gives these guidelines to law enforcement when dealing with a runaway: To be under the authority of Kansas law, the minor must reside in the state. Kansas runaway laws still apply if a Kansas minor crosses state lines. When a child has been reported as a runaway, the police response depends on the child's background. If the child has run away from a juvenile detention facility or foster placement, a warrant will be issued for the child. The child will have a chance to surrender voluntarily. If he chooses not to, the police will seek a court order to return the child. A child who does not have a background of illegal activity or warrants for arrest will be returned to his parents or guardians within 24 hours, unless abuse is suspected.
Haboring a Runaway
According to the Kansas Legislature criminal codes, it is illegal to give a runaway shelter without alerting law enforcement or the child's parents. A person who harbors a runaway in the state of Kansas can face prosecution. This includes the child's grandparents, other relatives or any adult over the age of 18 who keeps a child without that child's parents' or guardians' permission.
Reporting a Suspected Runaway
If you come into contact with a minor you believe to be a runaway, you have several options. You can contact the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's Missing Persons Clearinghouse with the minor's description and location, which alerts law enforcement to a potentially endangered child. You can also call the 24-hour hotline operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn will relay your information to local authorities. You can also report by phone or in person at your nearest local police station.
Mykal May has been writing professionally since 1992. She has published work in a number of print magazines including Brio and Pockets and for various Web sites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in writing and a Bachelor of Science in family relationships from Central Missouri State University.