Your child is missing. It didn’t come home from school or play or it ran away. Any child can go missing, from the moment they can crawl to teenagers of 17 years old. As a parent, it is very shocking when your child goes missing. It is important to first determine whether the child had a reason for not coming home. Were there any problems or is the child so young that he does not realize that he is not allowed to run away? Who can be involved in the search and when should you report your son or daughter as missing?
What is a missing child?
Every parent’s fear: your child has suddenly gone missing. When the child is missing, you talk about the fact that you have not seen your child at home for some time, while this could reasonably be expected. A 10-year-old child who goes out to play and is not home an hour later is not a missing child. Playing children often forget the time and come home a little later. A 1-year-old child who has crawled away through the open front door is a missing child. This child should not be expected to go out alone.
Waiting time 24 hours?
It is said that a child is only missing when he or she is absent for more than 24 hours. However, this applies to adults and certainly not to children. A missing person can therefore immediately be reported to the police, and the police will also immediately start a search. In children, people often think of kidnapping or a crime. The police will distribute the photo of the missing child as quickly as possible so that other people can also look out for the child or perhaps have more tips. The police are connected to AMBER alert. In the event of child disappearances, a message is sent out from AMBER alert. Many people have subscribed to AMBER alert through social media or via text message.
It is important to check for yourself whether the loss is serious. A child who has been missing for an hour while playing outside often returns on his own. But in all other cases, the parent may call 112 immediately. Calling 112 in the event of a missing child is even strongly recommended: action is taken sooner without valuable time being lost.
Which children are missing?
Very often these are runaway children from institutions or from a home situation where not everything runs smoothly. The majority of these children are between the ages of 13 and 18. Another large group of missing children are children of foreign origin or with parents of foreign origin. Most of these children return on their own or are eventually identified somewhere. This often concerns a divorce in which the father or mother takes the child abroad. These children often remain untraceable for years. A small flu of missing children is taken and/or killed by one of the parents. This is based on psychological problems or problems in the relationship sphere. This often concerns children between the ages of 0 and 12 years. A very small group of children have an accident while playing, drown or are kidnapped by strangers for ransom.
Search for the child yourself
Is your child missing? First consider where the child might be. A child over the age of six has often wandered off while playing or is indoors or in the backyard of a friend’s home. Call famous people or look up their telephone number. Also ask around from family. If the child seems untraceable, call the police. These will look around and ask questions in the area.
Is the child younger than six years old? Always check ditches, streams, rivers or ponds first. Make sure that the child has not fallen into the water. Ask other children to help search or ask them where they always play. Small children often see the world very differently than we adults see it. Favorite play areas are where other children are, the water, sandboxes or construction sites, places where animals roam, the forest, tall grass, the railway (watching trains), an overpass (watching cars). First walk through the most dangerous places and preferably have several people help you search. Feel free to contact the street, the neighborhood, colleagues or friends. Many people are willing to help in the search, so don’t be ashamed that your child is missing.
Adolescent boys and girls run away from home more often. Consider whether there has been any trouble or altercation. Many teenagers run away temporarily, for example to a friend. Also visit your ex-partner, if any: many teenagers walk to the other parent. The school can request an address list from classmates. Go through all of these. Did the child run away from an institution? There is a good chance that the child did not feel at home there and was staying somewhere with acquaintances. These types of children often run away in pairs.
Most children return within 24 hours
More than 85 percent of the children were found again within 24 hours. Another group is found after a few days. A small proportion of the children appear to be abroad, which the parent left behind can sometimes do little about (child abduction by the other parent). The police will use all possible means to locate a missing child. If various searches yield no results, the police will eventually have to discontinue the search. This may seem harsh and unconscionable, but one cannot search forever. Often the missing child eventually turns up, sometimes only after weeks or months. Unfortunately, a small number of cases remain unresolved. This is heartbreaking for the parents.