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May. 11th, 2011

To give you a little context first: I live in a townhouse, surrounded by several other small townhouse neighborhoods, which backs up to a huge single family neighborhood. I know my neighbors in our cul-de-sac, but hardly any of know anyone outside of our immediate neighborhood.

All that to say, there is a young teenage girl, I'm guessing around age 14, who walks around our neighborhood and several of the others, for hours each night starting after dark. She has done this for months. If I ever get home late, I see her walking-- at least once past midnight. My husband sees her nearly every night, when he takes our dog out for his last run. I've only managed to say hello once and she sounded really upbeat as she responded and kept walking. I asked several of my neighbors and they see her too. No one knows who she is, where she lives (other than not in our cul-de-sac), or has been able to speak to her.

Lately, I've started worrying about her more. I just think something must be up for a girl her age to be walking by herself that late at night for such long periods of time. I imagine the worse-- excessive exercise, to escaping an abusive home.

Anyway, should I do something? Is there anything I can even do? Am I just overreacting b/c of my job (minister to teens)? Should I just leave her alone and mind my own business? Call social services? Call the local police?

Oh wise ones, speak to me.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 11th, 2011 12:36 pm (UTC)
I work with kids too, so I may be overreacting as well, but that is definitely not normal. I don't know who I would contact, but I think your instincts are right on here.
May. 11th, 2011 12:45 pm (UTC)
Couldn't hurt to just ask (in a roundabout way)..."Hi, I've been thinking about starting walking more often. I've been meaning to ask, is there a route you like?"

I remember when I was that age that all I wanted was to be noticed, be reminded that I existed outside of my family. Just making note that you've noticed her could be good. And something non-confrontational seeking her advice might open her up to you.

Or, she could say something like, "I'm not out here walking for my HEALTH" (as my 14 yr old cousin would say to me as if I had asked her if she liked homework).

I don't know...just spit balling here.
May. 11th, 2011 01:31 pm (UTC)
I really like your opening line -- I never would have thought of that!
May. 11th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
I agree that triggers a flag of "something's not right at home". As for what to do, I'm really not sure. We have a 211 info line that connects you to a general menu of social services, do you have something like that in your area? Maybe not police persay going out, but police volunteers as a 'softer' concerned official?
May. 11th, 2011 01:54 pm (UTC)
I'd hesitate to involve authorities without at least trying to get a firmer vibe on her, so I would probably just join her for a walk one night. She'll either be like, WTF lady and give you some clue to her mental state, or she'll quietly let you walk beside her. I'd probably just sidle up, start walking, maybe say something like Brooke suggested, or just a "I'm walking with you tonight." statement. You are a minister of teens, so you have that as your "in", know what I mean? She's not going to freak out, she's seen you around before too. Maybe take the dog to have a neutral topic of conversation, if she's willing to talk at all. You'll probably be setting up your own personal ministry at that point, but my feeling is she would respond really well to that. Maybe she'll let you walk her home too.
May. 11th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
I don't think you're overreacting, either; it definitely sounds like something odd is going on. I'm afraid getting the police or social services involved will scare her off; I like Crowjoy's idea of just joining her, if at all possible, and seeing what you can learn from that before consulting authorities, if needed.

Maybe take the dog out instead of P for a night or two, see if you can catch her?
May. 11th, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
I called our police non-emergency line and chatted with the dispatcher. She told me that I should call back with a description of the girl the next time I see her and they would send an officer out to talk with her. Which isn't what I want. I know teenagers and know she will shut down quick, if confronted.
I think my dog will be getting the longest walk of his life tonight, hopefully I will find her and be able to speak to her or at least figure out where she lives. If nothing else happens, my dog will be thrilled.
May. 11th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think that's a sound plan. Whatever's going on probably isn't coming to a head tonight, so you can just relax your way on in... I don't need to tell you! You work with teens! (Cue note to self to pick your brains in the next couple of years!)
May. 12th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
May. 11th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
I just had a second thought...I wonder if she is just sneaking a smoke or something (and hides the evidence when she sees people coming)?
May. 12th, 2011 12:41 am (UTC)
While I have seen teens go to great lengths to hide their smoking (oh, the ridiculous lies I've been told!), I don't think they would walk for hours to do it and I'm super sensitive to it, so I probably would've smelled it.

May. 13th, 2011 01:47 am (UTC)
Maybe mom has a new boyfriend and she's getting out of the house for a few hours? Does she walk quickly, like she's trying to exercise, or is she just ambling?
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )