Young people's experiences of going missing from care: a qualitative investigation using peer researchers

Julie Taylor, Caroline Bradbury-Jones, Helen Hunter, Kate Sanford, Tom Rahilly, Nayla Ibrahim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Looked after children are significantly more likely than other children to go missing. They face significant risk of harm through, for example, exposure to alcohol, drugs and sexual victimisation. While research identifies some factors which may reduce the likelihood of looked after children going missing, it is recognised that a greater understanding of effective practice is needed. The aim of the study was to investigate young people's experiences of going missing from care and to identify the issues that contributed to them running away; trigger factors that prompted episodes of going missing; support received during or following instances where they went missing; and factors that might prevent future absconding. Research on children's experiences is often reported from the adult's perspective rather than allowing children to have a voice. We therefore recruited two young people to collaborate with the researchers as peer researchers. A qualitative study was undertaken using the Critical Incident Technique. Twenty-eight young people with a history of running away were recruited from different locations in Scotland. They took part in six focus groups, which were held during May 2012. Data were analysed using a framework approach. Four themes were identified regarding reasons for running away: authority and power; friction; isolation; and environmental issues. Commonly cited consequences were being ?grounded? and having shoes removed (to prevent further running away). Young people were critical of a lack of support on return and a lack of boundaries. They stressed the importance of being heard, being treated with respect, being able to exercise autonomy and feeling that someone cares. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-401
Number of pages15
JournalChild Abuse Review
Issue number6
Early online date4 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2014


  • care
  • looked after children
  • peer interviewer
  • running away


Dive into the research topics of 'Young people's experiences of going missing from care: a qualitative investigation using peer researchers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this