On Guard - Missing Child

On Guard - Missing Child

What if the unthinkable happens and you discover your child is missing? Even though difficult, you should try to stay calm; keeping a cool head is important. Search your home, yard and immediate street area. Contact any adults or other children on your block in case they may have seen something. Call the parents of your child's friends. Check local parks and stores any place your child may frequent. If you still haven't found your child call the police. In most areas there's no waiting period before police will investigate a missing child report.

Law enforcement agencies generally categorize missing children cases into one of four types and vary their investigations accordingly:

Voluntary - runaways abandoned or rejected children. This is the most common type and is generally handled as a low priority call.

Parental abduction - often the result of child custody disputes, confusion over custody or visitation rights or because one parent feels the other is unfit.

Non-family abduction - children who have been taken away, kept or secreted by someone other than their parent or legal guardian. Law enforcement usually reacts fastest to this type of situation because of the danger to the child.

Unknown - the reason the child is missing is unknown; it may be voluntary or it may be abduction.

Normally, a patrol officer will be sent to take an initial report from you to determine whether foul play might have been involved. The officer will question parents and neighbors, search the area and broadcast a description of the child over police radio.

The investigation then moves into a second phase, during which the child's information is entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, surrounding agencies are notified and a more widespread search is begun (exact procedures may vary from department to department).

Law enforcement authorities are required by law to enter missing children under the age of 18 into the NCIC database and a 1982 law gives you the right to verify that your child has been correctly entered into this nationwide computerized information clearinghouse.

You can help police find your child by having a recent color photo available, along with as detailed a description of the child as you can manage (hair color, eye color, height, weight, date of birth, any distinguishing marks, what clothing he or she was last wearing).

Let the officer know if your child has been fingerprinted a service offered by many police departments. Also give the officer the names of the child's doctor and dentist so that any needed records can be obtained. If you believe an ex-spouse may have taken the child, give the officer a description of that person, his or her address, phone, etc., and their information about their vehicle.

The safety of the child always comes first. Don't hesitate to contact the police if you have any reason to suspect your child has been abducted or has wandered off and become lost.

And, if you have information about a missing child, contact the National Hotline for Missing Children (1-800-843-5678), or your local law enforcement authority.

Laura Quarantiello is the author of the book "On Guard How You Can Win the War Against the Bad Guys" it's an information shield that can help protect you and your family against the creeps and crazies out there. For more information please visit: http://www.tiare.com/onguard.htm

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