Research shows this can happen to anyone, with children running away from affluent homes as well as low-income households. Running away is slightly more common among girls than boys.
Children are often running away from problems at home or at school. Some are dealing with very serious issues at home, such as neglect, drug and alcohol addiction (their own or their parents'), mental health problems, violence and abuse. A few children are even forced to leave home by their parents or carers. Others are trying to escape common problems such as bullying, relationship difficulties, loneliness or family breakdown.
Many children run away on the spur of the moment, without any forward planning - meaning that they probably haven't thought about where they'll go, where they'll sleep, or how they'll get manage to support themselves.
This means that many children end up on the streets, where the problems they face are often even worse than those they have endured at home. In many cases, children and young people who end up alone on the streets are at risk of sexual exploitation, drug and alcohol dependency, abuse and violence.