Yes, children should be charged criminally when they run away, because they usually expend public resources and law enforcement in order to find them. If a child becomes a societal concern because of this, they need to answer for it. We also need a way to monitor the child and treat mental illnesses while the child is still young.
My son has ran away twice, only for 1-2 days because he was grounded due to bad grades. He wanted to hangout with friends and left house without us knowing, and we couldn't find him. Charging him as a runaway is my next step since he doesn't listen or respond to other consequences such as loss of phone, extra chores, etc.
As a former runaway, I know that kids don't just run away for the hell of it. They run away because they probably getting abused, neglected, or both in various ways. I ran away because my dad verbally and emotionally abused me, and ignored any way I tried to make him proud. He would only respond with "do better". There are kids in situations worse than mine was. Kids being raped, beaten, emotionally scarred. Most of them are probably being told it's their fault. They don't know what to do or who to turn to. What do you do when there's a bully at school who won't leave you alone? You don't go to school. That's exactly what these kids are doing. Choosing not to live with bullies. If it's that bad, they should be found, brought home, and a thorough investigation should be conducted. If anything is deemed unfit, they should be taken to a foster home group home, orphanage, etc.
In this case when children run away they should be asked as to why they are running away, but I don't think nothing should happen to the parents either, especially if there is no abuse involved, because you do have those teens that think that they know it all, and don't want to talk to their parents
Charging runaways criminally would be one of the worst possible ideas for solving the problem of child runaways. This would further increase the chance of them not coming home or going to the police for fear of facing criminal charges, and most likely not decrease the amount of children running away because of the impulsive nature of child runaways.
No they shouldn't be criminally charged. Just give them back to their family. If the family wants they can ground the kid. If there are issues with the family like abuse or neglect then put the kid in foster care to await a hearing and if the evidence pans out then the kid should stay in foster care, get a new home, or if old enough be emancipated.
While children running away may cause unnecessary anguish for their families, and use up vital police resources that could be used elsewhere, there will always be more to the story than meets the eye. If a child is happy, there would be never any reason why they would want to run away. The child shouldn't be punished, but more should be done to work with them to get to the reasons why they felt the need to escape.