Every year, thousands of runaway children take to the streets in Canadian cities. And while 90% of them return home with the first two months, many never make it back. There are many things you need to know about how to find a missing person. The steps you take for reporting a runaway child may ensure that he/she makes it back home sooner than later.
• Call the police – IMMEDIATELY. Demand that a report be taken. Make sure to give as much information to the responding officer as possible, including the child’s full name, date of birth, approximate weight and height, and distinguishing characteristics: glasses, freckles, birthmarks, hair and eye color, and the clothing the child was last seen in. Their trained investigators know best how to find a missing person, so any details you can provide will make their jobs easier, and help them to be more efficient.
• Call surrounding police stations in surrounding areas. Give them the same information you gave your local force, as well as the responding officer’s identification number and name, and your original report number.
• Check with your child’s friends and their parents. Runaway children may seek shelter at a friend or loved one’s home first, and may have given an indication as to where they are going. Ask if any of your child’s friends are also missing.
• Call your extended family to see if your child has taken up residence with one of them.
• Call your child’s school. After reporting a runaway to the local police, reporting him/her to the school is critical so that the faculty and staff can be on the lookout. Go through your child’s desk and locker.
• Contact local border controls. Runaway laws do not extend to different countries, so if your child tried to cross the border he/she will be detained.
• Check your home computer, your child’s computer (if he/she has one) and telephone records for unfamiliar calls and/or emails.
• Use social network sites. Reporting a runaway online may help increase the amount of people searching for your child. Make sure to post recent pictures.
• Contact homeless shelters. Many runaway children take refuge in these shelters. Posting flyers and pictures will make your child more recognizable to both the staff and the patrons of the shelters.
• Cooperate with the police and the media to help engage the community in the search.
• Contact hospitals and clinics in your area.
• Post flyers at malls, restaurants and popular hangouts.
• Hire a private investigator that specializes in domestic services, such as child custody problems and finding runaway children. They are well versed in runaway laws, and can help expand your search outside of local jurisdiction.
Whatever you do, don’t wait. When it comes to reporting a runaway, time is of the essence. Police and private investigators know how to find a missing person, but the clock will work against them. The more quickly you speak to the professionals, the more quickly they can begin to search for your child. There is NO 24 hour rule when it comes to runaway children, so it’s important that you alert the authorities as soon as it becomes clear to you that your child is missing.