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What Should I Do If My Child Runs Away?

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Question: What Should I Do If My Child Runs Away?
Answer: Following these steps will expedite the investigation into locating your runaway child:

  • Locate the most recent picture you have of them.

  • Write down a description of what they had on when you last saw them.

  • Do they have any distinguishable marks such as tattoos, multiple piercings, birthmarks or other marks? Make a list.

  • If they have run away before - where did they go?

  • How did they leave? Their car? A friend's car? Walking?

  • If they took their own car, write down the description and license plate number.

  • Do they have a boyfriend or girlfriend? If so, obtain their name, address and phone number for the authorities.

  • Who are their friends? List all the friends that you can think of and make a list of their names and how to contact them. If you do not know this information, list who may know.

  • If they own a cell phone, obtain a copy of the last bill they received. Do they have their phone or pager with them? If so, write down the numbers for the investigators.

  • Make a list of their credit card and ATM account numbers. Obtain a copy of their last bill.

  • Contact your local police department and report your child as a runaway/missing person and have them list the child's name and date of birth with the National Crime Information Center.

  • If an ex-spouse exists, contact them to inform them of the child's disappearance and to verify that the child has not found refuge with them.

  • Install caller ID on your house phone if you do not already have it.

  • Contact the parents of your child's friends and inform them of what has happened. They often can supply you with valuable clues as to the whereabouts of your child.

  • List the names and locations of the places that they often frequent; their school, church, activity center like the YMCA, and favorite restaurants.

  • Prepare to send a contact sheet with your child's picture and description, all on one page, to police departments in surrounding cities.

    If your child has runaway before, there is a strong possibility they may do it again. Preparing some of this information in advance can quicken their return home.

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