Tips and Suggestions for Parents and Families
| Contact local law enforcement |
| Telephone |
| Check on locations that your child may go to on a regular basis |
| Flyers |
| When your child returns home |
Contact local law enforcement
  • Write down the officer's name, badge number, telephone number and the police report number.
  • Find out from the officer who will follow up on the initial investigation.
  • Keep a notebook and record all information on the investigation.
  • Be sure to ask if your child is entered into NCIC (National Crime Information Computer). They must be entered here or other law enforcement won't know your child is reported as missing if they pick them up or "run a check" on them for something else.
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  • Be sure to use an answering machine so you won't miss a call if your child tries to call you. Leave a message on your machine for your child if they call when you are not home. It is important to try and reach out to your child so they know they can come home.
  • Get "call waiting" on your phone if you don't already have it. It allows you to answer any call that comes in so your line is always open.
  • Utilize "last call return" if available in your area for hang up calls - press *69 or the established code for your area.
  • Phone log- keep a telephone log- something as simple as a spiral notebook- write down all the calls made and received, who you talk to, noting the date and time and a few notes about what you discussed. It is so easy to forget the agencies and people you've talked to and who said what.
  • Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) 1-800-845-5678. The NCMEC is the national clearinghouse for all missing children. They can also verify that your child is listed into the NCIC.
  • If your state has a clearinghouse on missing children, Make sure police have passed on the necessary information about your child to them.
  • Call your local runaway hotline as well as the National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-621-4000. (Parents and children can leave messages for each other there if they aren't ready to talk directly to each other)
  • Check with your child's friends- be sure to show concern and avoid making threats. Friends are usually able to provide some information. Be sure to speak with their parents so they are aware of the situation. If your child has not returned after a few days, check back with these friends again.
  • Check with their school, school counselor, neighbors, relatives or anyone who may know your child's whereabouts.
  • Check school lockers, gym lockers, pant and jacket pockets and notebooks for any phone numbers, names, locations, addresses, receipts etc. which might indicate where they have gone.
  • If your child has run before, contact the person with whom he or she was found and search the area they were found.
  • If your child appears to have run away with a friend, obtain information on them to include with the information on your child. Encourage the other child's parents to report their child as "missing" to law enforcement as well.
  • If the parents of the child are not living together, contact the other parent concerning the whereabouts of or contact with the child.
  • If your child is old enough to drive and a vehicle was taken, obtain a detailed description of the vehicle to be disseminated along with information on your child. Be sure police alert highway patrols and if your child is believed to be traveling out of state, contact should be made with those state patrols. Ask your State Department of Motor Vehicles to check on recent car registrations, title transfers, new licenses, and license renewals. Also check car rental agencies.
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Check on locations that your child may go to on a regular basis
  • Hospitals and Clinics- Check with area hospitals and clinics. If your child takes prescription medications, also check with local pharmacies.
  • Employers- Check with your child's employer to find out if your child was receiving any unusual calls, was attending work regularly, received a recent paycheck. Also talk to their co-workers.
  • Phone bills- Check past phone bills for any unusual long distance calls placed recently.
  • Banks- If your child has access to money at a bank, have there been recent withdrawals? If they have a checking account, have checks been used since they were last seen? Has an account been closed or have funds been transferred anywhere?
  • Pawn Shops- If your child needed money and had something to "pawn off" be sure to check area pawn shops.
  • Credit Cards- If your child has credit cards (or if yours were taken) contact the credit card companies and ask for duplicate copies of all charges and receipts for your records. Pay special attention to gasoline credit cards. If they use the credit cards it should leave a "paper trail" - so, while your immediate reaction may be to cancel your cards- they could provide needed information.
  • Bus stations and airports- Provide bus stations with a flyer or picture of your child. Bus stations don't usually keep track of the names of people on busses but employees may recognize a picture or a description.
  • Computer- has your child been "chatting" with someone on the Internet who may know their whereabouts. If you child spends a lot of time on the Internet, please provide this information to the police as well. Sometimes children leave home intending to actually meet someone they talk to online.
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  • Collect recent photos of your child to be used to make flyers. The Foundation can create a flyer format for you. It can either be mailed or faxed to you. You will need to take the flyer, along with a current photo of your child to your local printer. If you decide to create your own flyer be sure to include: first, middle and last name, nickname, date of birth, age, height, weight, hair color, eye color, other identifiers such as braces, tattoos etc. Include the location they were last seen (city and state), what they were wearing and the telephone number of law enforcement- including area code. Never put a home telephone number on a flyer. You can also add a handwritten message to your child on the flyer. Post them at fast food places, malls, rest stops and any place your child may go. Always ask for permission to post flyers . If they do not want to post the flyer in a public place ask them to place it where their employees can see it.
  • Promptly notify the police, state clearinghouse, The NCMEC, school, officials and any organizations who assisted you in your search.
  • Make fingerprint and dental records available to the police.
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When your child returns home
  • You may be overwhelmed by emotions; relief, anger and gratitude. Despite what you may be feeling make sure to show love and concern for his/her safety. If you react angrily, your child may feel unwanted and unloved and may run again. Make sure that your child understands that you care about what happens to them.
  • If your child has been away for an extended length of time a complete medical examination is suggested.
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  • When you child returns try to resolve the problems that made your child decide to leave home in the first place. Communicate, listen to your child. Their messages are extremely important and must take priority in the reestablishment of your relationship. Develop a plan with your child to work on the problems that exist within your home. Offer them resources- a safe place- for the future if they feel they cannot stay at home.
  • Seek the assistance of a trained counselor or professional. Parents can contact their local Department of Social Services, Family Services or other agencies that help families. Members of the clergy, school personnel or law enforcement can tell you what is available in your community.
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