MAKKAH: A recent survey conducted in the Makkah region found that 96.3 per cent of girls who ran away from their families are Saudis, while 3.7 per cent are non-Saudi. The study showed 51.9 per cent are female university students, 36.4 percent high school students, and 11.7 per cent middle school students.
The study showed 54 per cent of runaway girls are between the ages of 17 and 21 years; 24.6 per cent between the ages of 22 to 26; 15 per cent under 16; and 5 per cent older than 27 years.
The study, conducted by academics from the University of Umm Al-Qura, showed that 86.1 per cent of runaway young women who are not married; 10.2 per cent are married; 0.5 per cent are widows.
Of the unmarried young women, 81.3 per cent live with their parents; 8.6 per cent live with their mothers; 2.1 per cent live with relatives; and 1.6 per cent live with their fathers.
The study showed 45.5 per cent live in families of between seven and nine members; 34.8 per cent live in families of between four and six people; 13.9 per cent live in families with 10 members or more; 3.7 per cent live in families consisting of three members or less.
The study, which is the first in the Makkah area, shows that the reasons for running away were misuse of social media, bad friends, misunderstanding of freedom, copying other cultures, weak beliefs, lack of emotional security, a need for adventure, bad treatment by husband, lack of dialogue with members of the family, verbal abuse, poverty, no monitoring by parents, subject to violence from one of the parents or brothers.
An official of the Makkah Educational Directorate said everyone needs to feel safe and healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally. A child who does not feel safe at a young age will grow up feeling insecure and unstable and without emotional security. The chairman of the team that conducted the research said the family is the first component of the community and its first building block and “here we focused on the role of families in cooperation with the problems of runaway girls, as well as the role of community institutions and the factors associated with girls escaping from their families,”according to Arab News.