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Runaway and thrownaway youth in Lincoln, Nebraska

Lorraine Sysel Pallesen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this research on runaway and thrownaway youth in Lincoln, Nebraska was to obtain descriptive, developmental, and sociological information about the girls and boys, ages 10–17, who had been reported as runaway youth to the Lincoln Police Department in 1999. The study was designed to sample 10% of the 904 youth who had been reported as runaways, stratified by gender and age. ^ One of the principal objectives was to determine if each of the 60 female and 59 male participants, because of the motivation associated with their leaving home, could be appropriately placed in one of three categories. The categories were: (1) runaway; (2) thrownaway; or (3) combination runaway and thrownaway. The results of the research indicated that the participants could be accurately placed in one of the three categories. Furthermore, the findings identified differences that appeared in the characteristics of the participants in a particular category. ^ The research also had as an objective to examine the life-span development of the participants in order to identify the characteristics of the youth and their families which were associated with the runaway and thrownaway behavior. These characteristics were found to represent a reciprocal interaction with the genetic, non-genetic biological, family, cultural, and contextual influence in their development. As these factors were studied they were found to be intricately interwoven. ^ To determine the level of relational functioning of the participants and their families, the Global Assessment of Relational Functioning (GARF) Scale was used. Forty-nine participants and their families were identified to be functioning at the poor and very poor levels. Additionally, the severity of the participant's problems was identified along a continuum of not severe to very severe. The problems for 43 of the youth were determined to be very severe. ^ The family structure, change in custody, school experience, exposure to risk-factors, behavioral problems, law violations, and verified psychiatric diagnoses were examined as part of tracing the developmental characteristics of the youth. Numerous participants were found to have confronted a conflicting relationship with their parents, residential instability, problems associated with school and the law, and psychological problems, many of which resulted in a verified psychiatric diagnosis. ^

Subject Area

Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Sociology, Social Structure and Development

Recommended Citation

Pallesen, Lorraine Sysel, "Runaway and thrownaway youth in Lincoln, Nebraska" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3064568.