The Tuesday morning shooting at Roosevelt High School of a 17-year-old runaway by police not only raised questions about safety for students, it also raised questions about the troubled teens who are Hawaii's runaways.
Calling police to arrest a runaway may sound like an unusual event but it is an all too common occurrence in Hawaii.
"I understand the Honolulu police do more than 3,000 arrests each year for runaway behavior," said Judith Clark, with the Hawaii Youth Services Network.
Running away is considered a status offense and is just one of a number of "crimes" teenagers can be arrested for -- others include truancy, curfew violations and even being beyond parental control.
Clark said runaways typically are troubled by major family problems -- things like domestic violence, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, but the teens are not usually troublemakers.
"They're running from serious problems that make them feel life on the streets is safer than it is at home. That's a very sad thing," added Clark.
"When you look at the criminal history of these kids, the number of kids committing violence felonies against people is very, very low. Most of our kids are only involved in misdemeanor behavior," said David Hipp, with the State Office of Youth Services.
Currently about 700 runaways are helped by services statewide, but the actual number of runaways on our streets could be much higher. Efforts are underway to reach kids in schools and other places to encourage them to seek help before they are forced to run away from their problems.
Along with adding more programs to prevent runaways, there's also a push to de-criminalize many of the offenses that troubled youth face.
"Truancy and running away are social issues not criminal ones. We need to look at how to keep these kids out of court because as soon as they start to appear in court you're caught in a system that's hard to get out of," said Hipp.
Instead of an arrest, youth would get immediate assessments and services followed by timely case management.
The changes to the legal system would initially cost Hawaii more, but Hipp said it would save the state in the long run.
"If we don't get to these kids early on we're going to support them as taxpayers for the rest of their lives through the Department of Human Services welfare services or through the Department of Public Safety's prisons," stated Hipp.
At the state capitol, lawmakers heard a bill Tuesday morning that would create a "safe places for youth" network. It would give troubled teens safe spots they could run to 24 hours a day. There they could also start to get the services and help they needed.