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What to do if Your Child Goes Missing

Oceanside CA-  (NCMEC) What do you do if the nightmare of having your child go missing, happens to you. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® hopes that you will never need to know what it is like to have a missing child. However, we also know there is no such thing as too much preparation.

Here are some first steps you should take if your child goes missing.missing_child

First steps

  1. Immediately call your local law enforcement agency.
  2. After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678).
  3. If your child is missing from home, search through: closets, piles of laundry, in and under beds, inside large appliances, vehicles – including trunks, and anywhere else that a child may crawl or hide.
  4. Notify the store manager or security office if your child cannot be found when in a store. Then immediately call your local law enforcement agency. Many stores have a Code Adam plan of action in place.

Additional actions

  1. Secure your child’s room and personal belongings until law enforcement conducts a search.
  2. Secure any computers and wireless devices used by your child, but do not attempt to conduct a search of these devices on your own. Ask law enforcement to look for clues in any chat and social-networking sites your child has visited or hosts.
  3. Have a photo of and information about your child ready to provide to law enforcement. For a full list of items and descriptive information to provide, visit www.missingkids.com/ChildID.
  4. Restrict access to the home, no matter where your child was last seen, until law enforcement has arrived and had the opportunity to search the home and surrounding area.
  5. Contact the National Runaway Safeline, if your child may have runaway, at 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929) or visit www.1800runaway.org for assistance including information about developing communication with your child.
  6. Stay in regular contact with law enforcement, the media, and local government officials during the search for your child.
  7. Notify law enforcement, NCMEC, and other agencies assisting in the search as soon as your child is located.

For a more comprehensive checklist, you can download the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Missing-Child, Emergency-Response, Quick-Reference Guide for Families.

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