NJ has more than 250 missing kids who are runaways
A two-week search beyond state lines eventually recovered a Mountain Lakes teenage runaway in Philadelphia who did not want to be found.
There's never a day in New Jersey when police don't have an active listing for a missing minor.
According to statistics provided by State Police, there are 297 missing individuals under the age of 18. Approximately 85 percent are considered runaways.
Up to 2.8 million youth run away each year in the U.S., according to the National Runaway Safeline.
"Most children that voluntarily run away — they're usually not too far from the location that they ran away from," said Lt. Stephen Urbanski with State Police Missing Persons Unit. "But it doesn't mean that they won't jump on a bus or meet somebody from social media, which has happened."
Ninety-nine percent of New Jersey's runaways are recovered, Urbanski said. Many active listings on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website feature teens who went missing decades ago, likely due to foul play.
Just 32 of New Jersey's missing youth are under the age of 14. At 82, Essex County is by far home to the greatest number of missing juveniles. Hudson County posts the second-highest amount (30), NJSP statistics show.
By a small margin, more girls than boys are missing.
Two weeks after an argument about his grades that led him to run away from home, Mountain Lakes 15-year-old Thomas Kolding was found unharmed near a shopping center in Philadelphia. A note left behind indicated he did not want to be found, and he did not bring his cell phone.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.