Hot Health and Sex Info Hotlines Get Teen Calls While Some Adults Sizzle: Hotlines Not a Conduit To Runaway Shelters

Bill Howard and Mike Smith
May 1, 1996

A runaway youth may be more likely to end, up at a crisis shelter through placement by a child welfare agency or the police than via a national hotline.

Eddie Davis, head of the Youth Emergency Shelter in Morristown, Tenn., for example, estimates that out of the 800 youth his shelter serves annually; only 2 or 3 are there because of a national hotline. Of the 2,143 runaways admitted to the Covenant House of Florida in Fort Lauderdale in 1994, only 14 said that they came after calling a hotline.

"The percentage is very small, maybe 3 to 5 percent," said Lynn Hahm, director of Ocean's Harbor House in Toms River, NJ. "But national hotlines are probably used more in the big cities."

While rural area youth flock to local shelters familiar to them, national hotlines like the National Runaway Switchboard and the New York-based Covenant House Nineline attract the attention of the "professional runaways" – older youth – in larger cities, says Davis.

Willie Little of Philadelphia’s Runaway Youth Program figures that almost 15 percent of the youth in his 24-bed facility are referred by services like the Nineline. Wendy Naidich, director of the Nineline, estimates that 15 percent of their calls are referred to one of their 26,000 agencies, and about half of those callers actually end up at a shelter. While this number is higher than most, it is still far less than the number of runaways placed in such shelters by a social welfare agency.


Howard, Bill and Mike Smith. "Hot Health and Sex Info Hotlines Get Teen Calls While Some Adults Sizzle: Hotlines Not a Conduit To Runaway Shelters."Youth Today, May/June 1996, p. 13.

©2000 Youth Today. Reprinted with permission from Youth Today. All rights reserved.

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