Feasibility of chat for reaching runaways
(by Adinda Van Poucke)
Missing Children Publication Hub
Organization: Child Focus
Published In: 2015
In looking for ways to reach runaways more, a feasibility study was conducted to determine whether a specific chat channel is the right means of communication with this target group. In this study, several aspects were explored: which worries/needs do children and youth have, and which of these have possible links with runaway behavior. Once children/youth have identified these needs or problems, do they know where they can turn to for help or information? And if they are, do they actually take the initiative to contact these people or organisations? The study shows, as has other research, that only a minority of the children/youth take the step to involve professional help. These organisations are too often still unknown to the children who might need them. The threshold for coming into contact with these organisations just might be too high. It is already out of their comfort zone to involve adults in their lives. If moreover, the way to come into contact with these adults is not by their preferred means of communication, it should not be surprising that children don’t find their way to help. The feasibility study specifically looks at the advantages and disadvantages of instant messaging and explores its potential to open up professional help to children. The potential appears to be there, if certain conditions are met. For this study, literature was researched, study visits were made and runaways as well as professionals were interviewed.
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