If Your Child ContactsYou But Is Unwillingto Come Home
Show love and concern for yourchild, not anger or fear.
Remem-ber, the goal is to help work throughproblems and have him or her re-turn home.
Encourage your child to contacta local runaway shelter or theNational Runaway Switchboardat 1-800-621-4000 for assis-tance.
Ask if you can stay in touch withyour child.
If so, set specific planson a form of contact whether it bethrough a telephone number, mail-ing address, electronic mail, orfacsimile number.
When Your ChildReturns Home
When your child is recovered or returnshome, remember to show love andconcern for his or her safety andwell-being—
anger or fear. If youreact angrily, your child may feel un-wanted and unloved and may run awayagain. Make sure your child understandsthat you care about what happens to himor her.Promptly notify the police, stateclearinghouse, NCMEC, the NationalRunaway Switchboard, or anyone elsewho may have assisted you.If your child has been away foran extended period of time, a completemedical examination is indicated whenhe or she returns home including testsfor sexually transmitted diseases.Most importantly, when your child re-turns, try to resolve the problems in yourfamily that prompted your child to leavehome in the first place. In general, chil-dren run away because of problems orstresses in the family or at home—suchas divorce, remarriage, alcoholism, orphysical or sexual abuse.If you are unable to deal with thefamily problems effectively, seek theassistance of a trained counselor or pro-fessional. Parents can contact the localdepartment of social services, family ser-vices, or other public or private agenciesthat help families. Members of the clergy,school personnel, or the law-enforcementcommunity can also direct you toavailable services and resources. Makethese arrangements before your child re-turns, so the services may be accessedimmediately upon his or her return.It may be necessary for your child togo to a temporary residence or runawayshelter while the family works towardresolving its problems. A trained counse-lor can help you make this decision.
Preparation...Just in Case
There are several ways that parents canbe prepared in the event that their childruns away. While some of these measuresmay be more appropriate for a youngerchild, they all provide valuable informa-tion to aid in the quick recovery of arunaway.
Keep a complete written descrip-tion of your child including hair andeye color, height, weight, date of birth, and specific physical at-tributes.
Take color photographs of yourchild every six months. Head andshoulder portraits from differentangles, such as those taken byschool photographers, are prefer-able; however, candid photographsare sometimes more representativeof how your child looks than posedphotographs.
Make sure your dentist preparesfull dental charts on your child andupdates them with each exam. If you move, get a copy of these den-tal records to keep in your filesuntil a new dentist is found.
Find out from your doctor whereyour child’s medical records arelocated. All permanent scars, birth-marks, broken bones, and medicalneeds should be recorded.
Arrange with your local law-enforcement agency to have yourchild fingerprinted. The agency willgive you the fingerprint card. Theywill
keep a record of your child’sprints. You may also be able to ob-tain a sample of your child’s DNA,which may be useful for identifica-tion purposes. Be certain that youmaintain the only record of theDNA sample.Charles B. Wang InternationalChildren’s Building699 Prince StreetAlexandria, Virginia 22314-3175U.S.A.Copyright © 1985, 1998 National Centerfor Missing & Exploited Children. All rightsreserved.
Sandra Gaines, National RunawaySwitchboard, personal communication,October 15, 1998.
Kenneth A. Hanfland, Robert D. Keppel,and Joseph G. Weis.
Case Management for Missing Children Homicide In-vestigation: Fact Sheet
. Olympia,Washington: Office of the AttorneyGeneral, State of Washington, and U.S.Department of Justice’s Office of Juve-nile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,May 1997, page 2.
Lawrence J. Magid.
Teen Safety on the Information Highway
. Alexandria,Virginia: National Center for Missing &Exploited Children, 1998, page 3.The National Center for Missing & Ex-ploited Children (NCMEC), a nationalclearinghouse and resource center, isfunded under Cooperative Agreement#98-MC-CX-K002 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Preven-tion, Office of Justice Programs, U.S.Department of Justice. Points of view oropinions in this work are those of NCMECand do not necessarily represent the offi-cial position or policies of the U.S.Department of Justice. National Centerfor Missing & Exploited Children
is aregistered service mark of the NationalCenter for Missing & Exploited Children.Printed on recycled paper.
Parental guidelinesin case your child mightsomeday be a runaway
National Center for Missing &Exploited Children
National Center forMissing &Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing & Ex-ploited Children (NCMEC), established in1984 as a private, nonprofit organization,serves as a clearinghouse of informationon missing and exploited children; pro-vides technical assistance to the publicand law-enforcement agencies; offerstraining programs to law-enforcement andsocial-service professionals; distributesphotographs and descriptions of missingchildren worldwide; coordinates child-protection efforts with the privatesector; networks with nonprofit ser-vice providers and state clearinghouseson missing-person cases; and providesinformation on effective legislation to en-sure the protection of children per 42 USC§ 5771 and 42 USC § 5780.A 24-hour, toll-free telephoneline,
, is available in the United Statesand Canada for those who have informa-tion on missing and exploited children. Thetoll-free number when dialing fromMexico is 001-800-843-5678, and the“phone free” number when dialing fromEurope is 00-800-0843-5678. TheCyberTipline for online reporting world-wide is available at www.cybertipline.com. The TDD line is 1-800-826-7653.The NCMEC business number is 703-274-3900. The NCMEC facsimile number is703-274-2222. The NCMEC web-site ad-dress is www.missingkids.com.For information on the services of-fered by our NCMEC branches, pleasecall them directly in California at 714-508-0150, Florida at 561-848-1900, KansasCity at 816-756-5422, New York at716-242-0900, and South Carolina at803-254-2326.A number of publications, addressingvarious aspects of the missing- and ex-ploited-child issue, are available free of charge in single copies by contacting theNational Center for Missing & ExploitedChildren’s Publications Department atchild’s safety and include an appealasking the child to return home.
Use all available technolo-gies to assist in the search.
Forinstance, outgoing messages can beleft for your child and others on youranswering machine, with an an-swering service, and/or voice mail.In order to keep your telephonenumber free at all times, explore thepossibility of getting a second tele-phone line to be used as a facsimileline, a connection to an online ser-vice/the Internet, and/or as anadditional telephone line.Telephone calling features suchas Call Trace, Caller ID, and CallReturn can help in your search, if available in your area. Cellular tele-phones and/or pagers allow othersto reach you at all times. Whenreceiving collect calls ask theoperator for “time and charges” todetermine the telephone number/lo-cation from where the call wasplaced. Electronic mail can be ameans of tracing a person’s loca-tion when the address is saved andan online service is able to provideinformation about the user.
Order a complimentary copy of
When Your Child is Missing: A Family Survival Guide
from theJuvenile Justice Clearinghouseat 1-800-638-8736.
This book contains helpful information aboutyour role in the search for and re-covery of your missing child. It mayalso be viewed at NCMEC’s website, www.missingkids.com.