How to volunteer for a runaway kids hotline
Sep 4, 2012, 8:29 a.m.
According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, as many as 1.6 million children run away each year in the United States. When these children call for help about half of them are facing a family crisis -- divorce, problems that involve family rules or conflict with siblings, abuse and other issues that can overwhelm a child. The typical runaway is a 16-year old girl. These children need a safe place to call because some 5,000 die each year from suicide, assault and illness.
If you want to volunteer to help get these children off the streets and give them the safety and help they deserve, you can volunteer for kids programs in every community across the nation. You can expect to take an extensive training program -- anywhere from 15 to 40 hours of specialized education -- that will not only teach you how to deal with hotline callers. It will also help you deal with the emotional distress you are bound to feel as you talk with and try to help these troubled children.
Here's what you can do to volunteer teaching and helping these kids in dire need
Do a web search for runaway kids hotlines. One you can start with is the National Runaway Switchboard. Many other hotline services exist within every regional area.
Check out the organization that operates the hotline and determine if you're willing to commit to taking the required training, and then volunteering for a fixed schedule each week. The "C" word -- Commitment -- is required of anyone who volunteers.
Meet with the team that helps new volunteers learn the basics. Many hotline organizations use role play as part of their training programs. If you're shy and have trouble with role plays, you'll need to come out of your shell and realize that the work you are doing is about the children. Once you begin to take calls from these frightened, at-risk kids, you'll feel a sense of well-being you would never have expected.
Children are the future of our country and our world. With the divorce rate running near 50 percent and every imaginable kind of child abuse in the news on a regular basis, there's no greater blessing you can bestow on those lost and terrified kids than to give them a sense of welcome and peace as you help them rediscover their trust and faith in the adults around them.
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