LUBBOCK, Texas — As of Thursday November 3, there were four missing teenagers in Lubbock, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Lubbock Police Department said that these cases are typically runaway situations, as opposed to endangered missing children.
“They run away from home, they leave, there’s no [critical] circumstance, we don’t believe a runaway is in danger or that they were taken against their will,” said Lt. Brady Cross with the Lubbock Police Department.
Out of 30,000 missing children cases that the NCMEC assisted law enforcement with in 2020, 91% were endangered runaways.
While the runaway children are still considered missing, Lubbock Police says the situations can be vastly different.
“A child that’s endangered, there’s always something else, it’s more than just a runaway and we would always let the public know when it’s more than just a runaway,” Lt. Cross said. He stated the police department will always immediately inform the public when a missing child is in danger.
Lubbock Police said they respond to at least one runaway call a day, often seeing repeat runaways. “A lot of times runaways are a habitual thing, and they can end up being trafficked because of the people they meet while they’re gone and not having someone watching over them,” said Lt. Cross.
LPD also said teenagers and children that run away can sometimes leave warning signs for parents to look out for.
“If they’re experiencing anything at school or in their social life where they’re unhappy and think that running away is an option, oftentimes they will express that to their friends or they’ll post it online,” said Lt. Cross. “So, I think being in tune with what your children are doing online and what they’re saying to their friends would always give parents a heads up as to whether they should expect something like this might happen.”
Lt. Cross urges families to report a missing child immediately regardless of the situation.
“The sooner we can get there and get a clothing description of your child or if you know that they may have went to a friend’s house, the sooner we can start checking those locations, the more likely and more quickly we can return that kid home.”