Runaways: Life on the Streets

Life on the Streets
Dr. Phil and Jay McGraw talk to runaways and the parents of missing teens.

Susie Martinez says she doesn't know why her 15-year-old daughter Jennifer, pictured above, ran away from her home in San Pedro, Calif. on June 12, 2002. "I was shocked," says Susie. "We were very close ... I noticed her grades slipping ... and I knew she was dating a 21-year-old. When I confronted her about it, she said they were just friends."

Susie says that Jennifer's boyfriend is in a gang. When he was shot and hospitalized, Jennifer was spotted in the hospital. She fled once detectives arrived, and she hasn't been seen since.

"Jennifer, your whole family and I love you very much. Please come home," pleads Susie.

Dr. Phil asks Corey, "If your life continues on the path it's on now, where do you think you'll be in five years?"

"Either in prison or dead, probably," answers Corey.

"Is that OK with you?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Death is the end of a journey," responds Corey. "We're all born to die."

"But not at 19!" exclaims Dr. Phil. "Has it occurred to you there may be a reason you were put here to begin with? That you were given your brain and skills for a reason? I believe you have a chance. I believe in every person's life there are moments in which you can make choices to turn things around. I don't want to read about you being dead this time next year ... I don't want you to wind up in prison. And I know you can't just step out of the world you're in to the world you want to be in."

Dr. Phil tells Corey that he has made arrangements for him to participate in an intensive rehabilitation program in Colorado and offers him the airline ticket that he will need to get there. "They have agreed to take you for 84 days ... unless it takes longer," explains Dr. Phil. "You need to be drug-free to begin, so I've set up a doctor's appointment between here and the airport."

Corey agrees to give the program a chance.

The runaways who Jay interviewed in Las Vegas are assisted by a non-profit organization called Street Teens that is funded by private donations.

"I'll make the first donation," says Dr Phil.

To learn more about Street Teens and how you can make a donation, visit their official website:

If you have any information about Jennifer Martinez, please call 1-800-THE-LOST.

Jay spent 24 hours on the streets of Las Vegas with a group of runaways. "Why don't you have jobs?" he asks.

"I can't afford to stick 75 cents into a washing machine in order to even go and get a job," says Amanda. "Who is going to hire an 18-year-old punk girl with a bad haircut and dirty clothes?"

"What is the difference between you and me?" asks Jay.

"You were born into a much better family than I was," says Amanda. "You were taught all your lessons growing up. I had to learn mine the hard way. It comes down to who your family is and if they wanted you ... The hardest part was having to sell my body as a 12-year-old just to have something to eat," she says. "If there's anybody watching this that's having problems with their parents and they want to leave, you should not go! You have something."

Pandora, who is a sophomore in college with a 3.7 grade point average, shows Jay the ditch that she often sleeps in at night. Nobody at school knows she lives on the street.

"What do you think they'd say if they knew?" asks Jay.

"Wow!" she exclaims.

"What makes these kids run?" Dr. Phil asks Jay.

"They say it was so bad at home, anything else was a better option," explains Jay. "They're not thieves and criminals. They just had a bad go of things and got lost somewhere along the way."

Mike says his son Corey was a good kid who was popular in school and excelled at sports.

"When my son turned 13, that's when the problems started," says Mike. "In the 8th grade, we found out he was abusing Ritalin. He would grind it up and snort it. He went through a 30-day supply in two days."

"He started stealing credit cards," says Corey's mom, Mitzie. "The bills totaled $10,000 ... He was physical with me when he was a freshman in high school. He grabbed me by my arms and threw me across the living room floor. It made me afraid to be alone with him."

Earlier this year, he stole his mother's jewelry and pawned it for drug money. "He was given a felony and sentenced to drug court," explains Mitzie.

At that point, Mike says he told Corey he was on his own, and Corey began living on the streets. Two weeks ago, Corey asked to come home, but his parents said he couldn't. Dr. Phil asks Corey's parents why.

"When Corey is off the drugs, he's a great kid," explains Mike. "When he's doing meth, he's abusive, and argumentative ... I never believed there were so many ways you could have money taken from you."