Nearly 5,000 runaways each year in Shelby Co. - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Nearly 5,000 runaways each year in Shelby Co.

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - According to police, the four types of missing children are abductions, parental interference, throwaways, and runaways.

In the bowels of the juvenile court building, Sergeant Len Edwards is dedicated to finding missing kids.

"The number of children that run away voluntarily far surpass any other type of missing child case," he said.

The stats are staggering, every year in Shelby County alone nearly 5,000 children run away.

Fifty-one percent of the runaways are boys, and 49 percent are girls.

Most are typically found safe and sound.

"The reality of it is they do come back, because they like having a roof over their head," said Edwards.

Edwards said there's no up-to-the-minute stats on the number of missing children in the county.

But in recent days the Action News 5 newsroom got a city watch about a 12-year-old last seen at a bus stop, and a 15-year-old who left home January 22 and hasn't been seen since.

Also, the newsroom was notified of two Bartlett 14-year-old's who left their stuff at school and were last seen at a McDonald's perhaps in the company of a male friend.

Through social media a missing poster has gotten thousands of shares, retweets, and likes.

In general Edwards said social media is a double edged sword as it provides an avenue for predators, but also provides a way to spread the word or even a direct path to the missing.

"They're going to make contact with Facebook and Twitter friends and often that helps us recover the children," said Edwards.

Police said they do not believe any of the children mentioned in this story are in harm's way, but that they are investigating.

If you can help find them, call your local police department.

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