Steps to Take if Your Child Runs Away
1. Immediately call local police and report your child as missing. Keep records of your phone calls and all information.
2. Have your child’s name and description entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center Computer (NCIC). Ask the police officer for the NCIC number and write it down in your notes. Remember, there is no law requiring a waiting period for reporting a child missing or for entry into NCIC.
3. If your state has a clearinghouse for missing children, ask the police to pass on the information about your child and to ask for their help.
4. Call Child Find at 1-800-I-AM-LOST (1-800-426-5678) to register your child as missing.
5. Ask your police agency to conduct a search within a mile radius of where the child was last seen. Conduct your own search in cooperation with law enforcement. Have friends, relatives and neighbors help.
6. Tell others that your child is missing. Visit their school, friends, relatives and neighbors. Ask them to notify you should anyone know your child’s whereabouts.
7. Make up posters or flyers. Include a photo of your child, a physical description, the name and phone number of the police agency where you registered the missing persons report and Child Find’s 800 number. Distribute the posters to various locations in your area, including store windows, runaway shelters, truck stops, hospitals, post offices, malls and law enforcement agencies. Send copies of the poster to local newspapers and television stations.
8. When your child returns home, the problem is not over. Tell your child of your concern for their safety and well being. Show your love and address the problems that caused the child to leave in the first place. Seek professional family counseling and medical help. Services are available through Social Services or private agencies in your community. Call the police and Child Find to notify them that your child has returned. Your child may have to reside in a temporary residence or runaway shelter while the family works for resolution of its problems.