The music video for "Runaway Train" featured photographs and names of missing children in the style of a public service announcement. At the end of the video, lead singer Dave Pirner appeared and said, "If you've seen one of these kids, or you are one of them, please call this number" before a missing children telephone helpline number appeared. The video was edited for use outside the US to include photos and names of missing children from wherever the video was to be shown. The video drew awareness to the problem and was instrumental in reuniting several children with their families.
The message of the video became bigger than that of the song, and the Soul Asylum singer embraced that message. In our interview with Dave Pirner
, he explained: "I really got closer to an issue that I was concerned about and open to being concerned about, and thrust into a position where I was dealing with the Polly Klaas situation. There's so much raw emotion and so much reality to a situation like that that you can't exploit it."
Polly Klaas was a 12-year-old girl who went missing in October 1993, a few months after the song had peaked on the charts. The case made national news, drawing more attention to the issue of missing and exploited children. It was later learned the Klaas was abducted and murdered.