Thursday, February 01, 2007

What To Do If Your Child is Missing

Call 911

There is no 24 waiting period for reporting missing children (under age 18). **

Don’t wait. The first few hours are crucial in finding your child.

When you talk to the police, write down the officer’s name, badge number, and phone number. Make sure that a police report is being filed, write down the report number, and ask who will be following up on this. Write that officers name and phone number down.

Ask the police to get the cell phone records of your child’s cell phone, including the content of the text messages.

Call the FBI and give them the information on your child and the name and phone number of the police officer in charge of the case.

Call your child’s friends, neighbors, work (if applicable), and school. Tell them your child is missing and ask them if they have any information. Give them your phone number and the number of the police officer assigned to the case, and ask them to contact you if they hear anything about your child.

Ask if your child’s friends are missing because they may be together, or their friends may know where they are.

Keep someone at your home to answer the phone 24/7 in case your child calls or someone calls with information. Ask friends and family to help you. Record all incoming phone conversations.

Get a recent photo of your child and make several copies for the police.

Close the door to your child’s room and do not touch anything in there. Even a trash can or computer can have clues. Don’t wash any of your child’s clothes. Don’t clean anything that might have your child’s fingerprints, scent, or DNA on it.

Call the hospitals, clinics, runaway shelters, drug treatment centers, and counseling services/centers in your area and surrounding areas.

Make flyers on your computer with your child’s picture, description and contact information. Get friends and family to help post the flyers at malls, schools, shopping areas, and other places kids hang out.
The police will need your help. Remember, the first few hours are the most crucial in finding your child.

Be ready to give the police your child’s habits and daily routine, including the route your child takes to and from school.

The police may ask for things that have your child’s DNA and/or scent on them -things like hairbrushes, toothbrushes, bedding, and well worn clothes.

Make a list of every new person, unusual circumstances or people your child has encountered in the last year. Have there been any home repairs or construction in your neighborhood in the last year? What about homes for sale? Was there someone who paid extra attention to your child?

Remember, nice people abduct children too…

I remember sitting around our kitchen table on the first night our son was taken when the investigators asked me, “Is there anybody who liked Jacob too much? Who gave him special attention or presents? Who wanted to take him places?” I never dreamed that a nice person could have taken our son or that the most common lure is attention and affection.
—Patty Wetterling

** According to Federal law, the police are obligated to take the missing persons report and enter the information into the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) without a waiting period. If you encounter problems reporting your child as missing, please share these laws with your police department:

The National Child Search Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5779 (1990) prohibits all law enforcement agencies in the country from establishing waiting periods before accepting a missing child report without regard to the child’s custodial status, and requires immediate entry of each report into the state law enforcement system and the NCIC.

The Missing Children Act, 28 U.S.C. 534 (1982) authorizes the entry of descriptions of missing children into the National Crime Information Center computer and directs the FBI to make theses entries if local law enforcement fails to do so.