America’s Missing Children Fund | 3 Steps to Take if Your Child is Missing
May 3rd, 2013 by Brian Maiorana
In the article below, America’s Missing Children’s Fund has outlined a few immediate steps people should take if their child becomes missing.
The first forty-eight hours of a child’s disappearance are absolutely critical.
The action that is taken within that time frame can make all the difference in terms of the child being safely returned to his or her parents. As such, it is absolutely vital that you act swiftly and without hesitation.
In this article we cover the immediate steps you should take if you discover that your child is missing. Read them thoroughly then take action.
1. Stay Calm
As a parent, your role in the search for your child is key. Do not underestimate the influence you can have on the search — to an extent you will act as a fulcrum.
With that in mind, the first thing you must do is put yourself in the right state of mind to tackle the tasks ahead. The next few hours or days are likely to be highly stressful, but your child is best served by you ensuring that you are focused on what needs to be done. Your ability to work diligently in aiding law enforcement and other agencies to assist in the search for your child will be key.
Make sure that you have a network of caring and helpful friends and family around you to help you — do not take this journey alone.
2. Contact Local Law Enforcement
Do not be hesitant in contacting local law enforcement immediately after discovering the disappearance of your child. Be prepared to give the following information (and probably more) about your child:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Distinguishing marks (e.g. birthmarks, scars, tattoos, piercings)
Ask for the name and telephone number of the law enforcement investigator assigned to your case. Also ask them to enter your child into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Persons file (there is no waiting period for children under the age of 18). Furthermore, request that they put out a Be On the Look (BOLO) bulletin and explore the possibility of involving the FBI in the search.
3. Get Wider Help
Once you have answered law enforcement’s initial questions, cast the net wider.
Spread the word to absolutely anyone (family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers and so on) that you can think of. Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to ask for assistance with the search and for the contact details of any other organizations that may be able to help. They should also be able to assist you in approaching the media.
The key is to involve as many people and organizations in the search as possible. Make copies of clear photographs of your child (both in color and black and white) and distribute them through all channels.
There is Much More To Do
Above are the three steps we suggest you take immediately, but there is much more that you should do.
For further information we recommend that you consult When Your Child is Missing: A Family Survival Guide, an exhaustive report written and published by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). It offers a wealth of advice covering everything from photo and flyer distribution to personal and family considerations.
Photo Credit: Daniel*1977