A HARROWING report highlights the lives of young runaways in West Yorkshire.
Thrown Away: Young People Forced to Leave Home is the UK's first research into the plight of unwanted children who are thrown out or have to leave home.
The report, out yesterday, says 500 West Yorkshire children under 16 are thrown out of homes each year by parents who hit, neglect or reject them.
And The Children's Society research says , one in five (21%) are physically or sexually abused while away from home.
Few of these children are ever reported missing to the police by their parents, so their plight often goes unnoticed.
The report is part of The Children's Society's Safe and Sound campaign, which calls on councils to make West Yorkshire a safer place for young runaways.
The charity is rallying its supporters to challenge councils to pass the Safe and Sound test. The aim is to make sure there are plans in place to help desperate children.
Supporters can sign up to the campaign by visiting the website www.childrenssociety.org.uk/safe andsound
Bob Reitemeier, the charity's chief executive, said: "These are society's disposable children, thrown away or fleeing family violence.
"The fact that these children have suffered severe rejection at home makes them more likely to use drugs, more likely to run away for longer and more likely to be abused by adults who appear to offer them friendship and somewhere to sleep.
"We need to offer family support, so these problems can be resolved. And we must give these children somewhere safe to stay if family breakdown reaches crisis point."
The charity is calling for:
* Councils to provide guidance on young runaways, as required by the Government
* A national network of safe emergency accommodation to provide refuges for young runaways
* Family mediation services to help families in crisis and help prevent children running away or being thrown out
* Improved protection for older children.