What To Do When Your Child Goes Missing?
Imagine a list of all the possible terrible things that could happen. Topping at a wracking nerve position is the possibility of a child going missing. Stats tell us that only a small percentage of cases reported are actual. Most of the cases get resolved within hours, and the recovery rate is high.
While the figures are undoubtedly comforting, one must always be prepared and informed. The correct steps can save lives.
Immediately contact law enforcement
NCMEC recommends calling the local law enforcement as soon as possible when your child goes missing. Do not wait to find the child by yourself. Alerting the authorities right away is imperative.
The local authorities will enter the missing child’s name into the Missing Person File of FBI’s NCIC. No waiting period exists for minors under eighteen years of age. A ‘Be on the Look Out’ (BOLO) will also be sent by the officers to nearby police jurisdiction.
Prepare to share your child’s information
Because when the moment comes, panic drowns us. It’s hard to remember even the basic information in front of authorities when your child is missing. Try to give facts and hints in a lucid, understandable, or at least organized manner. The police will know what to make of any lead if found. Share the possibly maximum crucial information about your child, like:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- The clothes your child was wearing when last seen
- Identification features like birthmarks, cuts, or glasses
- Contact information of his/her friends
- Contact information of close acquaintances
- Hangout spots your child usually visited
- Any health issues you know that your child is dealing with
- Other information you deem relevant to the time and place of your child going missing
Keep multiple recent photographs ready to show when the police or other authorities request for it. The pictures should show the distinguishing characteristics well.
In case the officers suspect this being an abduction case, or that your child is in danger, an AMBER Alert will be issued by the authorities in the whole community. The alert will only be put when the police have enough descriptive information, so you have to be a thorough and reliable source.
Look in your immediate area
Once you have notified the law enforcement, move on to searching for the child where you last saw her. Hiding somewhere and falling asleep is a common thing that children do, so you must check all the beds, furniture, laundry piles, around vehicles, and even your washer and dryer. If, while the child went missing, you were in a store, notifying the manager immediately is essential. You will find a ‘Code Adam’ protocol in place in many stores.
Employees will stop doing their work and will look for your child. The entrance of the store will be monitored to prevent your child from leaving there.
If your child carries a phone or is old enough to have a social media account, keenly observe any digital clues left behind. Take the police’s help to explore social sites and messaging histories, instead of doing it yourself.
Call your child’s friends and family, and even neighbors –older children tend to run there. Try to contact any person whom you know to be close to your child. Make a list with their names and contact information, and any clues you get about your child’s whereabouts.
Notify law enforcement about any person who moved in or moved out of your neighborhood in the last year. Tell the authorities about anyone whose interest or involvement you know has changed in your family. If you have suspicions on anyone or have observed somebody to show an unusual interest in your child, immediately tell the enforcement.
The 48 hours after your child goes missing are vital and grave. Gather as much information as possible for providing the investigators, as recommended by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. It’s natural to want to be a help in your child’s physical search, but you need to be rational and do the best you can do –give information.
Make yourself available for law enforcement, since they’ll most likely check your home and collect evidence like sheets, computers, clothing, and even trash. You need to be there to give them access to anything they require. Save the contact of the assigned investigators in an easily accessible location. Your phone line must remain open. Maintain a notebook to enter any details, including names, places, and numbers related to the case.
Keep the access to your home limited until law enforcement has arrived for collecting all the possible evidence. Avoid touching, changing, or removing stuff from your child’s room or home. Little things like books, trash, and clothes can tell a lot about your child’s whereabouts to an expert eye. In case you’re confused, take prior help in learning how to secure a child’s room, and preserve evidence.
Reach out to NCMEC
After contacting your local authorities, reach out to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. You can call at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). They might help you out in the process by offering the organizations that could provide any assistance. They’ll utilize forensic imaging, provide their analytical resources to law enforcement, distribute missing children posters, and aid authorities in identifying sex-offenders in your region.
Other things to keep in mind when your child goes missing
Even though kidnapping cases are infrequent and rare, being prepared will help you prevent any such situation. Keep in mind the steps you need to take in such an event. Protective measures, including wearable GPS trackers for kids, kids smartwatch, and helpful home workshops, can significantly minimize the danger of disappearance.
Be strong, and take care of yourself, as well as your family. In such a stressful situation, it’s best to have someone trustworthy with you who can support you throughout the process. Do not stop eating nourishing food, take proper rest, and confide about what you’re going through. Do not be thrown back if you’re asked for a polygraph test, since it’s a part of the standard procedure.
Work with the law enforcement agency in scheduling media events and press releases. Request for issuing broadcast fax to the law agencies around the country if the case does not seem to progress. You can use a reward, and ask the law enforcement about it. Ask the enforcement to install in your device a trap-and-trace feature.
Pick the best motion sensors and best home security systems to avoid the risk of any such instance. Install home security cameras to keep yourself from being worried about such possibilities all the time.