Round Rock runaway returns home

Friday, July 29, 2005

By MICHAEL MENDOZA / KVUE News

A Round Rock girl who ran away from home three years ago has been
reunited with her family. Aravella Rodriguez was 13 years old when she
ran away. Now 16, Rodriguez said her 24-year-old boyfriend at the time
got her pregnant and took her to Mexico.

“I knew I was pregnant and I didn’t want to tell nothing (sic) to my
mom,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez was listed with the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children, but after three years, Rodriguez called
home to ask for help. She was reunited with her mother Thursday in
Houston and back home on Friday.

Counselors at Lifeworks, who work with runaways, say Rodriguez is lucky
to have returned home, especially after going to another country. Steve
Bewsey says that too many times, children don’t realize the risks of
running away, and that there isn’t always helps a phone call away.

“Somebody could be murdered, raped, trafficked for further sexual abuse,”
said Bewsey. “The dangers are you’re going to be in situations where you
can be further abused or neglected you can be in situations or take roads
where you don’t want to be.”
Rodriguez says she now realizes the risks, “It’s better to have your mom
or someone help you than not having anybody but a guy that’s going to
treat you how he wants to.”

More than 100,000 youths run away every year in Texas, according to
Lifeworks, the Texas Runaway Hotline, and the Texas Department of Public
Safety.

DPS officials estimate that there are 4,900 runaways in Travis County and
1,200 in Williamson County.

The Texas Runaway Hotline is 1-888-580-HELP.

The number to Lifeworks is 441-8336.

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