A fifth of children have considered running away from the family home, charity says as it warns children are struggling with the move to secondary school.
A poll of 500 children between the ages of 12 and 16 found 22% had thought about leaving home and a third said they were just 12 when they had considered going.
Carried out by Action for Children, the poll also revealed girls were more likely to have considered running away at an earlier age. Of the girls who responded they had considered running away, 37.10% said they had done so at the age of 12 compared to 28.26% of boys.
More than 80% of the children who said they had considered running away stated it was because of arguments, difficulties at home or feeling unwanted.
The charity warned this was related to the stress caused by the move from primary to secondary school - a process made harder by the ubiquitous nature of social media.
‘Children are expected to become more independent as they leave the security of smaller class sizes and established friendship groups and become exposed to a new environment dominated by social media,’ said Deanna Neilson, head of safeguarding at Action for Children.
‘Many fear bullying, isolation from established groups of friends or being judged by their peers as they try to find their place in unfamiliar territory.’
‘We are mainly talking about children who are making the transition from the small, familiar world of primary to the big, scary unknown world of secondary,’ she continued.
‘This can cause anxiety because they are trying to be grown up when many are nowhere near emotionally mature. It’s really important for parents, as well as aunts, uncles and older siblings, to create opportunities to talk to younger children and encourage them to share concerns.’