Author makes effort to save runaway children with new book

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Every year in Utah, hundreds of children run away from home or foster homes. Most are victims of abuse. International bestselling author, and Utahn, Richard Paul Evans focuses on that in his latest novel "Grace."

"You don't know who would believe what has happened to you, so you're pretty much on your own," said Shelly Tripp, a former runaway. "And so, you know, at 14, I ran away."

Richard Paul Evans
Richard Paul Evans

Tripp says her father began sexually abusing her when she was 6 years old. Foster families helped, and now as a successful real estate agent, she is helping others.

The Christmas Box House provides shelter for abused and neglected children. Now with state agencies, there is a new initiative to help older kids who were never adopted.

Kailamai Hansen, who is just transitioning out of foster care, said, "Foster children, sometimes all they need is just a little bit of love."

The Lifestart Initiative is coming forward with a new novel from Evans. "Grace" is about a runaway abused by her stepfather.

"They are not dangerous and scary. They are good kids that have had bad things happen to them," Evans said of the foster children.

Right now, throughout the country, 12,213 children are officially designated as missing runaways. In Utah, there are 29.

The director of the Utah Department of Child and Family Services calls those statistics a national tragedy.

Duane Betournay, director of the Utah Division of Child and Family Services
Duane Betournay, director of the Utah Division of Child and Family Services

Duane Betournay knows the stories of kids too old for foster care. "Youth who leave foster care become homeless, that they become victims of sexual abuse, that they end up going into prisons," he said. "We won't be happy until we stop hearing those stories."

All involved say they won't be happy until children who have run away from abuse have a second chance.

If you are interested in helping with the Lifestart Initiative, click the related link to the right of the story.


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