A teenager’s recent experience illustrated that the line between “moving out” and “running away from home” can be a fine and complicated one, depending on the circumstances.
In a post on the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit, they offered a written explanation of the many dramatic moving parts involved in the recent ordeal.
The Original Poster (OP), known as beefwiththegaylasers, painted a chaotic picture with the post’s title.
“AITA for not joining in on my town’s search party for a missing 18 year old girl even though it got me a school suspension?”
OP explained how it all began.
“I used to be very close friends with this girl, we’re more of acquaintances now but we still stay in touch sometimes.”
“Her mom reported her as a missing person all over town and on the town’s community pages of Facebook, the police post included that she’s not been seen since she left voluntarily from her mother’s residence.”
OP then took advantage of their direct line of communication.
“I texted her asking if she’s seen the news, and apparently she hasn’t. I told her about how she’s been reported as a missing person and that everyone is looking for you.”
“She said that she cut contact with her mom and has her own apartment now, and that she made it clear to her mom that she was leaving.”
“I told her that we should let the police know that you’re safe so they can call off the search.”
For OP and their friend, the next move was clear.
“The next day or so after getting that information from my friend, we went to the police station to call off the search party since it was a mistake that she was missing.”
“She explained to them about how she moved away from her mom so she was never actually missing.”
“Later that day I saw some update posts from the police on Facebook and some other posts that she was discovered to be safe and that there was some confusion about whether she was actually missing or not.”
But no good deed goes unpunished.
“Well, people in the comments got upset that she wasn’t brought back home to her mom, so now they’re all doing their own individual search party to look for this 18 year old girl.
“I told everyone in the comments that I know her and that she made it clear to her mom that she was moving out, and that I saw her at her apartment the other day perfectly fine.”
“Then I got a bunch of comments coming back at me saying I should be ashamed of myself and that a child her age is not capable of being out on their own and that I should give them her apartment address.”
“What are they gonna do, break down her door?”
And the drama even invaded OP’s life directly.
“Even at school staff have been saying things to me here and there about how I should knock some sense into my friend (my friend and I are still in high school), I think it’s weird they’re all talking to me behind her back as if she doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
“And then another thing is that her mom posted a comment under the police report saying ‘Just to give some advice to parents out there- please, please, please keep some sort of tracking device on your kids’ phones that will track them even if the phone is turned off. I wish to God I would’ve done one on ____”, even though her daughter left willingly.”
“I told everyone that but I got more replies of ‘You don’t know if she really did, someone could’ve influenced her to leave her mom.'”
And things only grew more out of hand after that.
“It gets worse, I got an in-school suspension (a suspension that lasts 2-3 days but I stay in a Reflection room all day long) because I was ‘helping/encouraging’ a runaway.”
“How does that even relate to what I do in school? Her being away from home doesn’t have anything to do with me other than I’m friends with her and know about her situation and respect her decisions.”
“I’m still not going to give anything up because I believe I’m not in the wrong here but now everyone is against me.”
“They’re not being helpful either because the school principals keep pulling her out of class to talk to her.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
A clear majority of Redditors assured OP they were not the a**hole.
Most highlighted their friend’s age as the clear variable.
“NTA. Unless this girl has reduced mental capability, she’s not a child any more. She’s an adult, and doesn’t need protected or rescued.” — urson_black
“Wtf did I just read??? When did we stop counting 18 yr olds as adults that can make their own decisions? I moved out at 17 and never looked back. You’re NTA For protecting your friend and her wishes.” — GothSpite
“NTA she’s 18 and legally an adult. She could run away without a place to go and it’s still legal.”
“She can choose to live on the streets if she wants. No one can say or do anything.” — RabbitQu33n
“WTF? She’s 18, she’s not a ‘child’ at this point, and what the heck does that have to do with school? So much of their reaction makes no logical sense. NTA” — buricco
Other Redditors focused on the startling image of an informal group hunting for a teenager.
“Sounds like cult mess” — OverlordPancakes
“You need to report the mass, coordinated stalking to the police. They need to put a stop to this.”
“She is in her legal rights to leave home and what all these people are doing is stalking and harassment and is illegal.”
“It also appears that they’re intentions are to force her back to her mother’s home, so they’re openly planning a kidnapping” — AllyKalamity
“NTA but also INFO:”
“What kind of a community is this? A ‘whole’ town, including the school (!!), undermining the rights of a legal adult and punishing those who try to assist her?”
“Are there cultural/religious practices at play here? Has your friend dealt with mental issues, so people fear for her safety?”
“I’m just trying to wrap my head around this…” — SchroedingersCatnip
“OP take legal action, and leave the bs town! There’s a reason your friend got outta there!” — crazybambooness
And a few were outraged about the suspension in particular.
“NTA. I’d be going ballistic on that suspension.”
“Contact the District Superintendent and President of the school board telling them what you want. And who puts tracking devices on other adults, that is screwed up!!” — petarob
“NTA But I would be suing that school left and right for suspending me for something outside of school” — Kellogs08
As mere readers from the other side of the vast distance across the internet, we can only hope that the frenzied town keeps everyone’s safety and well-being the priority.