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Friday, September 9, 2011

Tips On How To Report A Loved One Who Has Gone Missing

Tips On How To Report A Loved One Who Has Gone Missing
By Marie Owens

You’ve checked at all their friend’s houses. Nobody has answered the phone or was able to tell you where your child is. You’re praying that your child will be home soon just so that you can simply be angry with them for being two hours late; rather that than face the alternative of them being kidnapped. Then, before you know it, the two hours worth of time progresses into three hours, and then time starts to tick slowly forward. By the time it is 10 p.m. and you don’t know where your child is you may be ready to pick up the phone and dial 911, which could be wise idea at this point. It is important that you never go to bed without knowing where your children are.

So many people think that they would never experience the horrific feeling of losing a child. You may even agree with that statement. After all, you live in a safe neighborhood, you’ve taken all the necessary precautions, and your child would never talk to strangers, right? Unfortunately, even in the best of situations, child abductions do happen and they can happen to anyone. Even having a criminal justice degree or have a job at the local police station, can't prevent this horrific crime from occurring. It could even happen to your child. Each year, 2,185 children are filed as missing. Additionally 797,000 children, all under the age of 18, are abducted. However, only about 58,000 of these children were kidnapped by strangers. Yet this does not mean that you should not teach your children the basic principles of the dangers of conversing with strangers.

Kidnapping isn’t just child’s play, though; adults can and have also been kidnapped. In fact,  CNN reports about 50,000 adults are kidnapped each year. Thus, if someone you love has been the victim of a kidnapping, how can you report it and what information is relevant while reporting a missing loved one?

One of the most frequently asked questions about child abductions is how long a person should wait before they file a missing persons report. The answer lies in many different places, and across all different time spans. Reporting your child missing ultimately depends on the situation at hand. However, according to Nanny McBride, who is the National Safety Director and runs the center for Missing and Exploited Children, “If someone is going to harm a child, they usually will do it in about the first three hours of the abduction.” That means you should report your child as soon as you know something is wrong or if you have a strong sense that something has happened.

When you’re certain that any sort of abduction or foul play has occurred, be sure to call the police immediately. In fact, you should bypass calling your local police number and simply dial 911. If you witness what you think is a child abduction, call 911 immediately as well. Other resources you can use to report a missing child include the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Their phone number is toll free and they can be reached at 1-800-The-Lost.

Many parents also use another resource: the Amber alert system. This system allows adults to broadcast information across town. An Amber alert is defined as a “child abduction emergency,” when there is fear of immediate harm to a child and the child’s life may be in danger. Whether or not one will be used for your child will vary case to case. If you want to use one, speak with your local police department about whether it would be the right option for you.

In order to compile a proper report, it is important to keep these tips in mind:

I.     Always have a basic description of the child ready and a picture of the child available for local police to view. For example: “he’s 5 feet 2 inches tall, he has blond hair, and he was last seen wearing a blue t-shirt with a baseball cap that said ‘International Rescue.’” If you were not there that morning or you cannot remember what the child was wearing the morning of the abduction, ask someone to provide you with a recent description of what the victim was wearing. Police experts recommend photographing anyone older the age of two at least once a year. Infants under two, they say, should be photographed at least four times a year.

II.   Know where you saw the child last. Or, if possible, know where the scene of abduction was, as police will be able to get the most information from that scene.  For example: “I last saw John Smith at 7:30 this morning when I dropped him up for school. He went to a friends’ house after school, Jane Doe, and now I can’t find him anywhere.”

III.  If the child has any sort of photo identification card, make sure to give that to the police. Also other proper forms of identification such as the child’s birth certificate or a social security number tare very useful.

IV.  If your child has any identifying marks, be sure to give this information to the police. If possible, have a complete medical history ready to give to police as well.

V.    Lastly, most police officials recommend having your child fingerprinted.

Knowing this information can assist the police in bringing your child home safely.

It is also important to know how to report an adult loved one who is missing. Often, adults don’t get reported missing until the 72 hour mark has passed. This myth has been around for ages, but as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police reports, there is no “mandatory” missing time for any adult. However, if you can prove that foul play is involved in an adult’s missing police report, you should report that immediately.

It is important to note that not all adults are kidnapped by someone who is intending to harm them. There are many reasons why adults may disappear, which range from chemical dependency issues to marital discord, and surpass thousands of other reasons as well. On occasion, police will not search for a person until after the 72 hour mark, but the report should be made as soon as possible.

The information that should be given to the police for a missing adult is very much the same as the information that should be given to the police for a missing child. Proper photo identification, whether it is a state ID or a driver’s ID. It may also be wise to have the adult fingerprinted in the event that they go missing.

While it's important to read up on how to report someone missing, it's also important to stay well informed on how to prevent someone from being kidnapped as well. Following safety precautions is essential to preventing yourself or someone you love being abducted. It is wise to gather your pictures or any identifying information about your children or loved one and always try to keep track of where your children are at all times. Following through with these steps will help you be able to make an accurate report in the event that you have to.