According to police, there have been more than 60 runaway reports this summer. Now that number does include the same young person leaving home more than once, however it doesn’t make the fear from parents any less.
KELOLAND News talked to local officers about how they work with kids year-round to keep them safe and off the streets.
Not only is taking off from home a dangerous idea, it could get you into trouble with the law. Running away is actually illegal in South Dakota.
“Most of the time what we’ll do is we’ll type up the reports and charge them as a runaway. Those reports will go to the State’s Attorney’s office and ultimately they’ll have the final decision as how they want to proceed with that,” Sioux Falls Police Resource Officer Jason Larsen said.
Jason Larsen is a School Resource Officer at Lincoln High School. He works with kids during the school year to build relationships.
Then during the summer he patrols popular hang-out spots, like the pools and parks, to make sure kids are safe.
When a child is reported as a runaway, getting them to come back home isn’t always easy because of the legal ramifications.
“It can frighten them to the point where they don’t want to come forward and turn themselves in, or show up at school because they’re afraid they’re going to get into trouble,” said Larsen.
Larsen says as someone who walks the halls of Lincoln High, he knows the kids pretty well. That’s just part of the reason his job to protect them from the world outside these halls is so important.
“We want to make sure they’re okay. Our biggest concern is for their safety and their well-being. And if we can’t find them and we don’t know where they’re at, then that’s a concern for us,” said Larsen.
Why is this such a big concern? Well according to Call to Freedom, one in six kids who runaway are pulled into human trafficking.