In Depth: Help for parents of runaways

State statistics show 90 percent of missing children in 2002 were suspected runaways.

Nakia Sanchez, 15, says life as a runaway is not easy, but it's better than dealing with the non-stop fights she and her mother had. Unfortunately, Sanchez's story is not all that uncommon. One Bronx mother says her daughter, Bridgette, left for school one day and never came home. The woman says the problems with her daughter started when she told her to stop spending time with her boyfriend who was older.

Experts agree that communication is key. They say the number one thing parents can do to keep their kids from running away is to simply talk to them for a half hour each day. Criminal Justice Services also says kids do present signs when something is wrong. They say kids eating and sleeping patterns might change or they might begin hanging around with different people and stop spending time with their families.

Bridgette's mom has filed police reports with the NYPD, but still has heard nothing about the whereabouts of her daughter. According to the NYPD, once a runaway report is filed, an initial search is conducted and then the case is dropped.

But parents can get help from organizations such as the Bronx Task Force. The group has a 100 percent success rate in finding runaways. Parents can also get help at the city's Administration for Children's Services. It just started a family assessment program in the Bronx to help parents experiencing problems with their kids.

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