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A guide to realizing if

your child is at-risk, displaying 

self-destructive behaviors, and

needs your help and intervention.



Struggling Teens

Call Now!    1-866-620-1418

Learn more how Total Transformation, an at-home program for parents, can help your troubled or struggling teen and heal your family.




Alcohol & Teen Drinking




Asperger Syndrome


Behavior Problems


Conduct Disorder


Counseling & Therapy




Emotional Health


Parenting Teens




Sexual Behaviors


Substance Abuse




When Your Teen is in Trouble with the Law









Runaways and Missing Children

Things to Do If Your Teen Runs Away  -  Free Guides

Why Teens Run Away  -  When Your Teen Returns Home

Runaway Prevention



There is NO 24-hour waiting period

for reporting missing children under 18.


The first 48 hours are the most important

in locating your child.


Fifteen years ago, federal legislation was passed directing police to take reports immediately on any missing children under age 18, including runaways.  Under the law, that information must be entered into the National Crime Information Center, a computerized database of victims and criminals maintained by the FBI.  However, that doesn't mean police start to search immediately.


While police officers are required to take a report and assess every missing child case, only the children who are believed to be in danger or are under age 13 or mentally or physically disabled are automatically classified as "critical missing persons."


The Amber Alert is not intended for runaways or parental abductions except in life threatening situations and is intended only for the most serious, time-critical child abduction cases.





Things To Do If Your Teen Runs Away



Dial 911 as soon as you suspect your child has disappeared and demand that a police report be filed immediately.  When calling, be prepared to report your teen's name, date of birth, height, weight, identifying features such as glasses, braces, piercings, etc., and the clothes you last saw him or her wearing.


Record the officer’s name, badge number, telephone,

fax and report numbers.  Ask who will follow up the initial investigation.


After you call the police, call the Sheriff's Department, state police, and police from adjoining jurisdictions File reports, record the officers' names, badge numbers, telephone, fax, and report numbers.


Check with your child's friends, work, neighbors, relatives, or anyone else who may know of your child's whereabouts.  Ask them to notify you if they hear from your child.


Go to your child's school, speak with teachers and staff, and go through your child's lockers and desks.


Find out if any of your child's friends are missing.  They may be together.


Notify the local FBI office and have your child's description entered into the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer.  Obtain the nine-digit NCIC number for your child's case.


Notify border patrols.  Ask your local law enforcement agency or missing child agency agency to provide these numbers.


Check home computers for leads such as online contacts and details of a planned meeting.


Call missing children helplines, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST and Operation Lookout at 1-800-782-SEEK.


Call runaway hotlines if you suspect your teen is a runaway, such as the National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-621-4000.


Notify your state's missing children information clearinghouse and other helping organizations.


Share information through social networks -- Facebook, Twitter, My Space, YouTube, etc.  Post articles, photographs, blogs, videos.  Interact with individuals and organization that can spread the word and help find your child.


Keep a record of everyone you contact, including date and time, name of person, organization, phone number, and information received.


Keep your home phone staffed and record conversations.  This may be the only way your child knows how to reach you.


Close the door to your child's room and don't touch anything in there.


Find pictures of your child to use in the search.  Choose photographs that are recent and realistic.


Check telephone bills for the past few months for any unfamiliar long distance calls.


Cooperate fully with the police and the media.


Contact runaway shelters in your area and in nearby areas and states.  Give them your child's photograph.  If your teen gives an incorrect name and age, it will help identify him/her.


Contact hospitals, abortion clinics, drug treatment centers, and counseling services in your area.


Leave flyers at youth hangouts, malls, and recreation centers.  You can create, display, and print a Missing Person Flyer from your computer.


Offer a reward.  The Carol Sund / Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation provides Missing Person-Criminal Apprehension Rewards of up to $10,000.


Hire a private investigator.


NEXT:  Why Teens Run Away



Hotlines and Helplines


American Association for Lost Children



ChildFind Canada

1-800-387-7962 24 Hour


Child Quest - Report a Sighting of a Missing Person




Covenant House Nineline



Missing Children Society of Canada

1-800-661-6160 24 Hour


National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

1-800-THE-LOST 24 Hour


National Runaway Switchboard

1-800-621-4000 24 Hour


North American Missing Children Lines


Operation Lookout

1-800-782-SEEK 24 Hour


State Missing Children Clearinghouses


Team H.O.P.E.


Parent network for families of missing children offering encouragement, empowerment, resources, and support.



Read All The Books



Why Johnny Can't Come Home

This is the story of Noreen Gosch's decades-long journey to solve her son's kidnapping into an international pornography and prostitution ring.  READ the story of Johnny Gosch.




Free and Helpful Guides


A Family Resource Guide on International Parental Kidnapping (pdf)

Comprehensive resource that includes laws, strategies, and available civil and criminal remedies.


Family Volunteer Center Guide (pdf)

How to organize volunteers in your search.


Guideline for Locating Children Missing in Mexico (pdf)


Guidelines to Follow: A Resource for Families and Friends of Missing Persons (pdf)


The Laura Recovery Center Manual

How to conduct a massive, citizen-directed effort to recover a missing child.


Living Without Fear in America

Self-help e-book that shows you how to protect yourself, your family and especially your children from personal attack, injury and abduction.


Make Runaways Safe (pdf) ~ Report by The Children's Society (UK) on what government agencies and individuals can do.


Missing:  What to Do if Your Child Disappears

Free video guide from the Klaas Kids Foundation for parents, law enforcement, and communities.  Includes a sample poster to print out and modify.


A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety

Protect your children from Internet pornography and online predators.


Personal Safety for Children:  A Parent's Guide

Teach your children to be smart, strong, and safe.


Protect Your Kids from Child Abduction

This free e-book is an outstanding reference guide providing both knowledge and real-life strategies that will empower parents to make good decisions for the safety and security of their children.


What about me?  Coping with abduction of a brother or sister (pdf)

Written by siblings of children who have been abducted, this guide contains information to help and support children of all ages when their brother or sister is kidnapped.


When Your Child Is Missing:  A Family Survival Guide

Critical information, guidance, and tools to help find your missing child. Spanish version



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