The first 24 hours after a child goes missing are crucial because that’s the time when a child could be taken to another state, or even another country in some cases. Getting help from local law enforcement agencies helps prevent international parental kidnappings and safely reunite missing children with their families. However, you have to know who to call and what to do during those first 24 hours if you want to maximize your odds of locating your missing child. If your child goes missing, here’s what you should do during the first 24 hours.
The first thing you should do if your child has gone missing is report them missing to local law enforcement agencies. The sooner you let law enforcement know there’s a missing child in the area, the sooner they can start the search and help you exhaust all your options.
Request a BOLO Bulletin & Don’t Interfere with Evidence
A lot can go through your head when you find out your child is missing, but it’s important that you don’t interfere with any evidence that may help in finding your child. Try not to touch anything in your child’s room and leave their belongings where they were when you found them.
Get the Contact Info of Your Investigator
Speaking of investigators, it’s important that you get the contact info of the investigator who’s helping you locate your child. Keep a note of the investigator you’re working with and any phone numbers or email addresses they may provide; this contact information will be crucial if you have any new information to offer.
Write a Detailed Description & Find Recent Photographs
A written description is helpful, but nothing paints a picture of your child quite like a recent photograph. If you have them, provide law enforcement agencies with recent photographs of your child in both color and black and white.
Provide Documents & Other Supporting Information
When you file a report with law enforcement, make sure you include court orders and other important documents that may be relevant to the case. If there’s a custodial order in place, it can give you solid legal ground that can help you recover your missing child sooner.
Take Notes of Phone Calls & Conversations
You’re going to spend a lot of time on the phone and talking to investigators in person in the 24 hours after your child goes missing, so make sure you take notes of any phone calls and conversations you may have.
Contact The Committee for Missing Children
The Committee for Missing Children is one of several organizations that can help you locate and reunite with a missing child. This organization works with law enforcement agencies to help left-behind parents find runaways or children who have been abducted by the other parent. You can find more information on the website for The Committee for Missing Children.