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Opinion & Essays - Aug, 1995 Issue #35 

1995 TESTIMONY ON WASHINGTON STATE'S BECCA BILL

(The following was provided by James & Brenda Jones, Runaway Alliance - Tacoma Area Coordinators, Milton, Washington 206-770-4643. It was written by a teenager named Ruth Goode on March 7, 1995 to the Washington State Senate while it was considering legislation to modify the Juvenile Justice Act passed in 1977) 

To whomever it may concern, 

Hello, my name is Ruth Goode, and I am an X runaway. The reason I am writing this letter is that I know there are hurting runaway teens and their parents that need help getting their lives back together. 

But, in order for them to do so, they need help. Help from young people like me, you, the community, the senate and laws to put an end to young girls and boys on the streets. 

Like every other runaway, I was on the streets. I started running away at 13 and stopped at 15. 

I did not do this because I was abused in my mother and stepfather's home, it was not because I had a drug or alcohol addiction, and it was not because I was a prostitute and had a pimp that would not let me leave. 

It was because I didn't like rules and I wanted to do everything and anything I wanted to do. 

Sure, me and my parents had our problems, but it was nothing to run away over. I just wanted to do my own thing. 

And believe me, from much experience, I know more than half or nearly all the runaways I know, are the same way. 

What I am saying is a lot of kids run away for the same reasons I did. 

Caring people like social workers, counselors, and adults can sit and talk to these kids and these kids can get into those people's heads, ranting and raving on how bad their home lives are when they are just using a scapegoat because they want to do their own thing. Just like I did. 

I am sorry, but I have to say this, Washington state is one of the best states for kids to run away, believe me, it is a runaway heaven. 

You can do what you want and run away as much as you want, without worrying about group homes, jail, and things of that nature. 

In other words, NO CONSEQUENCES for your behavior! 

And another thing about the laws is that the parents have no rights. 

When my mother wanted to help me, she couldn't, when what I really needed and truly wanted deep down in my heart was to get help even if it was forced upon me. 

I was in placements, but none of them worked, they helped, but none worked until the last one. 

I moved back to Kentucky with family members and ran away again. That was my third time running away in that state, so they put me in juvie jail until they could find me a placement. The best placement and program that saved my life, Kentucky's own, London Group Home. 

I was there for 7 months, and after I got out, I remained in a structured school and home life, and a 6 month probation time. I am proud to say I haven't run away since. (I got out of the program in Jan. 94). 

Now I still have problems, just as much as the next person, but I have learned to live with them, instead of running away. For the 1st time since I was very young, I am happy again.... 

And the reason I am writing my personal business and opinions is because if it will save one runaway from getting hurt or one parent sitting up at night, crying, wondering where their child is or helping a family stay together, my mission is all worth it. 

So what I am asking is, that the state passes the Becca Bill, for all the Becca's and the Ruth's -- the parents and others, in order to get help and learn to live and be happy again. 

Please don't let the pimps, hustlers, and sick people on the streets take away another young person's happiness and innocence. 

Do this for the families,
We can all make a change.
By Ruth Goode 

Copyright 1995, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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