Nothing is more nerve-wrecking to a parent than when a child goes missing. The number of children that go missing each year is staggering: 460,699 missing juvenile reports were filed in 2015, according to FBI data.

Take comfort that, of the thousands of missing children reported annually, a very low percentage are true child abduction cases. A majority of missing person cases are resolved within hours and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reports a 97 percent recovery rate.

If your child does go missing:

  • Immediately contact your local police department. Do not spend time looking for the child until you have alerted the authorities. Legally, local authorities are required to enter a missing child’s name and information into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File right away — there is no waiting period for minors under the age of 18.
  • Look in your immediate area. Once law enforcement has been notified, begin searching where you last saw your child or where they are known to hang out. Contact any friends, family, or neighbors who are close to your child.
  • Make yourself available. The first 48 hours after a child goes missing are critical. As a parent, you are going to want to help with the physical search, but the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) advises guardians to instead focus energy on gathering and providing information to investigators. Especially as law enforcement may want to check your home and your child’s room for evidence — and the OJJDP says it’s common for authorities to take clothing, sheets, computers, and even trash as evidence — you’ll want to make sure you’re available to give investigators access to anything they need.
  • Contact and notify organizations.  After notifying your local law enforcement, report your missing child to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC), as well as the missing-child clearinghouse in your state or territory.  If there are other nonprofit organizations in your area assisting families of missing children, contact those, too. The more people you have searching for your child, the better.
  • Then contact Not a Runaway, Inc. You can reach us at 1-888-U-FIND-US . Once you are connected with Not a Runaway, Inc, an intake coordinator will register your child, gather information, explain our process, guide you through next steps, answer questions, address concerns, and assign you a case manager. The case manager for your child will immediately begin working directly with you and coordinating efforts with law enforcement and allied agencies.
Report It

If you think you have seen a missing child, contact your local police department 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.


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