Fri, Apr 03, 2009
Teen ran away from home 9 times in two years
There have been an increasing number of cases of runaway teens in recent years, according to a report in the Lianhe Wanbao.
15-year-old Joey (not her real name), was one of them. She starting running away from home two years ago, and has left home up to nine times, staying away for days at a stretch, once up to half a month.
In a telephone interview, Joey shared with a reporter from the Chinese-language evening daily her reasons for running away.
Caned for being fifth in class
According to Joey, her father works as an engineer and her mother is a teacher. She has a younger sister who is a year younger than her.
However, her family life was not as perfect as it seemed. Joey said her mother had very high expectations of her, and wanted her to always be among the top three students in class.
She said: "I could still meet her expectations when I was in lower primary. But the work got harder and harder and I didn't manage to be in the top three positions in class."
"Even if I was fifth in class, my mother wasn't happy. She caned me everyday to make me work harder and improve. At the time, I felt she didn't love me at all."
Dad didn't dare interfere
Joey said at first, her father would defend and protect her from her mother's lashings. However, when she 8-years-old, her father had an affair with a woman he met while overseas for work.
"My mother was very angry when she found out. In order to make amends, he gave in to my mother's wishes from then on. Even if she vent her frustrations on my sister and I, he didn't dare to interfere," said Joey.
Joey began to rebel when she was in Secondary one. She remembered the first time she ran away from home, she wanted her mother to be worried and scared, in hopes that it would make her "realise her mistakes".
"The first time I ran away, I stayed out for two days. When I returned, my mother didn't scold me. She even said she would reflect upon her actions and make me happy. However after a short while, she returned to her old ways."
Seven boyfriends in two years
Joey revealed that she had "six or seven" boyfriends in the past two years, and she has stayed at each of their homes when she ran away, depending on them for her meals.
As they did not have money, they frequently stayed home to play computer games, but Joey maintained she did not have a sexual relationship with any of them.
Said Joey, "Each time I ran away, my parents would call my handphone and call the police, but I wouldn't care."
Beyond parental control
Joey eventually got arrested by the police for getting involved in a fight. Her parents refused to bail her out of the police station, which increased her hatred for her mother.
Her parents eventually filed a Beyond Parental Control complaint against Joey.
In court however, her mum had a change of heart and told Joey that if she were willing to change, she would not send her to the Girls' Home.
"I hated her at the time, so I told her to do whatever she wanted and not talk so much," said Joey.
Joey spent a month at the home. Her time there made her realise the importance of family, and her parents' good intentions.
Joey said: "Now, when my mum scolds me, although I still harbour thoughts of running away, I stop myself and speak to my counsellor instead."
Her counsellor, Ms Chua, said she counsels Joey fortnightly, and also speaks with her parents. Ms Chua says her mother is no longer as strict with Joey, and both sides are working to repair their relationship.
Ms Chua says she is seeing more cases of teen runaways in recent years. She feels that parents should spend more time with their children and learn to communicate more openly with each other.