Each year we take hundreds of reports on juveniles who’ve run away from their homes for various reasons. As law enforcement, our goal is to bring these children back home. As runaways, they are at a greater risk of becoming involved with prostitution, alcohol and drug abuse.
In Kansas, a runaway is defined as someone who is under the age of eighteen and leaves the home without the permission of the child’s parents or legal guardians.
When the police department is notified that a child has left home, an officer will gather pertinent information from the child’s parents or guardians. This includes things such as obtaining the names of their friends, looking at their social networking profiles and email accounts. They will also request a recent picture of the child.
The officer will then complete a report and enter the runaway juvenile into the National Crime Information Center database (NCIC). Entering the juvenile in NCIC allows any officer who has contact with the child to take them into custody and return them to their parents or legal guardian.
Sometimes we face obstacles which make finding and returning a runaway to their home a little more difficult. Whether by good intentions or otherwise, anyone who knowingly harbors or aides a runaway is guilty of Contributing to a Child’s Misconduct as defined below:
Kansas Statute 21-3612: Contributing to a child's misconduct or deprivation.
(a) Contributing to a child's misconduct or deprivation is:
(1) Causing or encouraging a child under 18 years of age to become or remain a child in need of care as defined by the revised Kansas code for care of children;
(3) failure to reveal, upon inquiry by a uniformed or properly identified law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of such officer's duty, any information one has regarding a runaway, with intent to aid the runaway in avoiding detection or apprehension;
(4) sheltering or concealing a runaway with intent to aid the runaway in avoiding detection or apprehension by law enforcement officers;
(c) As used in this section, "runaway" means a child under 18 years of age who is willfully and voluntarily absent from:
(1) The child's home without the consent of the child's parent or other custodian; or
(2) a court ordered or designated placement, or a placement pursuant to court order, if the absence is without the consent of the person with whom the child is placed or, if the child is placed in a facility, without the consent of the person in charge of such facility or such person's designee.
The Overland Park Police Department wants to discourage any person from assisting and / or exploiting juveniles in these situations, but instead asks the public to help by reporting sightings of missing / runaway / exploited children.