What to do if your child goes missing

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - For a parent, the moments after a child goes missing can be terrifying and frantic. That’s why the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has stepped in to help.

The non-profit has put together both an in-depth and quick-reference guide with everything a parent might encounter when their child goes missing, what they can do, and where they can go for help.

The quick-reference guide includes a checklist with 33 items to help parents conduct a thorough—and hopefully successful—search for their child.

The list starts off simple by instructing parents to call their local law enforcement. The next step is to check their home, cars, and property—especially small spaces where a child might hide or get stuck.

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From there, the guide expands out to make sure parents—who are possibly going through the most stressful time of their lives—know the right questions to ask investigators to make sure information is spread far, wide, and fast.

You can find the quick-reference guide here.

The NCMEC also has a nearly 100-page guide that was written by parents and loved ones who have experienced the pain and anguish of a missing child. This guide is more comprehensive. While it includes what to do in the crucial first 48 hours, it focuses on the long-term plan.

The guide describes the role parents can expect to play in the process, how the partnership with police will work, and how to get the media involved in the search.

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It also describes how to put together a “missing” flier and even includes a template parents can use.

You can find the full guide called “When Your Child is Missing: A Family Survival Guide” here.

For a full list of resources and a list of current children missing in the D.C. metro area, check out WUSA9's Bring Them Home Resource Guide.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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