Runaway Children

A Sheriff's Department vehicle.
A Sheriff's Department vehicle. (source)

Sheriff’s deputies in the American state of Florida recently had an unexpected encounter in the line of duty. The two police officers pulled over a car that had been reported stolen and were approaching it slowly. Their guns were drawn because such situations often turn deadly, and caution is warranted. Unexpectedly, two children, a 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, stepped out of the car.

The two children, who are siblings, turned out to be runaways. For the girl, her mother confiscating her electronic devices was the final straw. With her brother, she was trying to escape to California. Many children decide to run away from home at some point in their childhood, but most do not get far. In this case, the pair had traveled 320 kilometers from their home.

The mother of the children had reported her car stolen and her children missing four hours earlier, but she had not guessed that the children had actually taken the car. Police detectives interviewed the children and concluded they were not being mistreated at home. Additionally, the mother chose not to press charges against her children.


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Useful Language

  • Sheriff’s deputy (n) - a police officer who works in an area called a county, which is often distinct from a particular city
  • In the line of duty (phr) - while doing a job such as those done by police officers or members of the military
  • Pull over (phr. v) - to make the driver of another vehicle drive to the side of the road and stop
  • Drawn (adj) - when a gun is drawn, it is out of its holster and ready to be used
  • Warranted (adj) - justified or necessary
  • Sibling (n) - a brother or sister
  • Runaway (n) - a child who has left home without permission
  • Confiscate (v) - to take something away from somebody, usually as a punishment
  • The final straw (phr) - the last bad event in a series, one that makes you take action to change a situation
  • Press charges (v) - if someone has criminally wronged you, in some cases you can decide whether they should be punished by the legal system by pressing charges


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. What did you think about this story? Was there any surprising information?
  2. How are the driving conditions where you live? Are the roads safe or dangerous?
  3. At what age do people usually start driving in your country? Did you start driving at that age?
  4. What is the longest drive you have done as a driver or passenger? How did you avoid feeling bored?
  5. Do you have brothers or sisters? If so, what kinds of things did you do together as children?
  6. Did your parents make rules for you that you thought were unfair? Was there anything you could do about it?
  7. Did you want to run away from home when you were a child? Did you try? How far did you get?
  8. If you ran away from home, where would you go?
  9. Have you ever seen or used a gun?
  10. How is the job of a police officer in your country? Difficult? Dangerous?