Missing Child

Runaway Child

Parental or Family Abduction

Child Concealment

Stranger Abduction

International Parental or Family Abduction

Parental Kidnapping

Children who have been enticed away from home

Child missing due to unknown reason

Children enticed/abducted into or involved in a cult

Abused Children

Exploited Children

Juvenile Human Trafficking

Juvenile Prostitution

Juvenile Narcotics Ring

Adult Missing Persons (Some restrictions apply)


The problem of missing children is complex and multifaceted. Children may become missing due to abduction by nonfamily members or abduction by family members. Children may be missing as a result of running away from home. Children may also be missing involuntarily for reasons other than abduction, due to becoming lost, injured or otherwise missing to their parents or guardians. The best national estimates for the number of missing children are found in the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2), released in October 2002. According to NISMART-2, an estimated

  • Nearly 800,000 children younger than 18 are missing each year, or an average of 2,185 children reported missing each day.
  • More than 200,000 children were abducted by family members.
  • More than 58,000 children were abducted by nonfamily members.
  • 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. These crimes involve someone the child does not know or a slight acquaintance who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.

Each year, nearly 1.3 million children are reported missing. Although the unforeseen absence of a child is always upsetting, fortunately most missing children are returned home in a short period of time. This fact, however, provides little consolation for the parents of children whose whereabouts and welfare remain unknown.


One of the big problems with police-led missing persons searches is simply that the term (missing persons) is so narrow. Police are also reluctant, due to thinning resources, to search for people who voluntarily left home or for those who live on the streets. Even in a police-led missing person search, police will stop looking after a certain amount of time and will declare the case a cold case. Because being a missing person is not a crime, police are given a very limited role while conducting these types of investigations. As a general rule, all people have a right to be left alone, and police intrusion into their lives must be minimal.

However, in cases where "foul play" exists, police can investigate just like any other criminal act. Also, in cases where the missing person is "endangered" due to medical problems, life-threatening situations, or is a juvenile police will investigate.

Once the missing person is found by police, the department will notify the person who made the report. However, police cannot disclose the location or whereabouts of the missing person without that person's consent. If the missing person is a juvenile the police should take the juvenile into custody and contact his or her parents.

Police do their best with the resources they have but anyone who wants real answers and fast needs to speak to a private investigator. A professional investigator will start looking for someone as soon as you feel uneasy and will continue to search as long as you are still looking for answers.


Call the police. If your child is under 18, you do not have to wait until he's been missing for 24 hours. It's hard to call the police on your own child–you may worry about what people will think of you as a parent, how your child will react to knowing you called and what kind of trouble he might get into when he's caught. However, the police can distribute his photo and look for him as they patrol the streets. They also may be aware of popular places where runaways hang out and look for him there. Tell them the names of any friends your child might turn to and places he might go. If your child has any kind of medical condition–physical or psychiatric–let the police know. This will allow them to classify your child as "missing: endangered."

Call her friends and associates. Go to your cell phone provider's website (the address will be on your bill), log in and look at your child's cell phone usage. Call every number she has called in the past month; ask the people at those numbers if they've seen or heard from your child. Talk to the parents of your child's friends, and let them know the police have been notified; most people are reluctant to be caught up in situations involving the police and may worry about getting in trouble if they tell anything they know. Parents who know the police are involved may strongly encourage their kids to speak up. Let the friends know they won't be in trouble if they are hiding your child or know where she is, but they need to tell you. Remind the people you talk to your phone number, and ask them to call you if they hear anything.

Utilize social networking. Set up a group on Facebook that includes your child's photograph, identifying information, contact information for yourself and the police, and any other relevant information, such as where he was last seen. Invite all your friends, and ask them to mention the group on their accounts. Make sure the group is open to the public so that anyone who sees it can join.

If you can, log into his/her own Facebook and Myspace accounts, and look for clues to where she might have gone. Post bulletins or status updates from her pages that state she is missing, and include your contact information. Do the same from any accounts you have, and ask friends and family to also publish the information on their pages.

Drive around your neighborhood and neighborhoods in which your child has friends. Stop at such places as convenience stores and coffee shops, and post fliers about your child (with management's permission). Cover bus stations and local bus stops with fliers.

Visit local schools and give fliers to the administration; children who run away often go to school with their friends, where they can pretend to be visiting relatives or home schooled friends. It's easy for these kids to hide in plain sight, so make sure the administration passes the information on to teachers and other school staff.

Contact runaway shelters and hospitals, and give them the information about your child.

Make sure someone is near the home phone at all times, and keep your cell phone charged and nearby. If your child tries to contact you, he must be able to reach you.

Enlist the help of your child's friends. If her friends are posting on social networking sites and word gets out that not only you but her friends are concerned, she may make contact.

Make a detail journal of everything that has happened regarding your loved one during the prior two weeks before they went missing. Start from the time they got up until they went to bed. Try to answer WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY each day. Provide it to the police or to a private investigator.

Contact nonprofit organizations in your area that help with missing persons.

Hire a private investigator that will not hamper a police investigation. Make sure they are licensed, have law enforcement experience, have a clean record, can testify in court, knows human nature, clearly spells out fees and has good rapport with you.