What To Do If Your Child Is Missing
- First and foremost, do your best to remain calm. If you are reading
this because you suspect that your child is lost, abducted or has run
away we know how stressful the situation can be. You are most likely
filled with anger and other emotions. However, you will need to remain
as calm as possible. Law enforcement and professional detectives can
help you easier when you remain calm and keep your wits. Whatever the
case and wherever your child has gone there is a proper and effective
way to find their safe return. Keep this positive emotion in mind as
you deal with the situation.
- Notify your local police department or county sheriff immediately.
Provide them with as much information as possible. Ask them to fill out
a normal police report. Let them ask questions and answer them honestly.
Remember, they are professionals and know what to ask, what to look for
and how to best proceed in your best interest. It is very important that
you communicate with law enforcement in a factual, yet truthful way so
they can best serve you. Do and act accordingly as they instruct.
- If you sense your child or teen has runaway, call the NRS or The
National Runaway Service. Their number is toll free 1-800-RUNAWAY or
1-800-786-2929. They are staffed with a switchboard of well trained volunteers
who will offer advice and provide support right away. Moreover the agency
will provide you will many excellent services free of charge that
can assist you. These include crisis intervention, "home free"
via Greyhound bus as well as act as a center for messages between you and
your child. On your first phone call, leave a message for your child
or teen. There is always a chance they will call and receive it.
- Spread the word to as many people as you know that your child or teen
is missing. Ask them to report to you any information they may have regarding
the whereabouts of your child. Be sure to tell them that you have reported
them to the NRS and that they will act as an intermediary for messages.
It could be that your child or teen's friends know more than they will
admit, but there is a good chance they will at least pass along contact
information. It is important that you stress to everyone you and your child
knows that you are not angry, just anxious to be reunited with your
- Contact the media meaning all the local newspapers, TV and radio stations
in the area. Give them as much information as possible including pictures
and posters of your child. Be sure that they have your telephone number,
yet keep it confidential. Your child or teen may call them if a story is
reported. They will do whatever possible to help you. Visit your child's
school. Talk with the principle and teachers. Inform them and ask if
they have any information that may help. Many teachers can tell you of behavior
and differences in behavior that can be helpful.
- Lock down your child's computer. Turn it off and do not let anyone
have access to it except for law enforcement or a reputable private detective.
This is very important because your child's computer will have many clues
as to their whereabouts and how they dissapeared. The computer has already
stored valuable information that will assist professionals such as visits
to Social Networking sites, chat rooms, perhaps even chat history and
- Gather up important paperwork that may provide more hnts and
clues to what happened. These would include things such as phone bills,
e-mail activity, cell phone/pager records, credit card activity, bus or
airline dockets, bank statements, and employment records if your child was
employed. Organize these records and keep them in a file stored in a
safe place. You will want to provide information to appropriate professionals
as quickly as possible. You may also want to make photocopies for
distribution to law enforcement and private detectives.
- Install Caller Identification on your phone and be sure your answering
machine or voice mail service is working properly. You may hear from
your child or someone may phone you with an anonymous tip. The message
may be valuable and even more so if you have the time, date, and caller
- Be good to yourself and others around you. Take care of your
spouse and other children. It can be a juggling act because of the emotional
roller coaster you're on, yet it will not serve you well to increase tension
or problems with those who remain close to you. Keep your wits, remain
calm and follow the steps in this plan of action. Your chances of success
are far greater.