Parents — if the worst thing happens and your child goes missing, there are a few facts you absolutely need to know. First and foremost: Do not wait 24 hours to report your missing child. The first 24 hours are critical in finding your child. Be sure to alert friends, family, and neighbors so they can spread the news as well.
Make these important phone calls
Immediately call and alert your local law enforcement agency that you suspect your child may be missing. After you have reported you child as missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
Conduct a thorough search
After you’ve called both of these numbers, make sure you conduct a thorough search of your home. Make sure to search closets, any piles of laundry, in and under beds, inside of large appliances, inside vehicles (including trunks), and anywhere else in your home a child may crawl or hide.
Losing track of your child in a store
If you happen to lose sight or track of your child while in a store, notify the store manager or security officer. Then, immediately call your local law enforcement agency. Many stores have a “Code Adam” plan of action in place for these situations. “Code Adam” was created in memory of 6-year-old Adam Walsh and is a powerful search tool for lost and potentially abducted children.
Be as descriptive as possible
When you call law enforcement, there are certain details you should be sure to include in your report. These details include your child’s name, date of birth, height, weight and descriptions of any other unique identifiers such as eyeglasses and braces. Additionally, tell them when you noticed your child was missing and what clothing they were wearing. Also request that the law enforcement authorities immediately enter your child’s name and identifying information into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center Missing Person File.
The above steps are vital in finding your missing child, and again: do not wait 24 hours to take action!