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How to Initiate an Alert

1.  Immediately call your local law enforcement agency. 
When a child is missing, there is no waiting period before a law enforcement agency can take a report. This is by Federal mandate under the National Child Search Assistance Act of 1990. (42 USC §§ 5775 and 5780)

Concentrate on remaining calm for the sake of your child.

Ask that an officer be dispatched to your location.

2.  Look around your home for clues to your child's possible whereabouts of destination of travel.
There could be clues in the home that may lead to the finding of your child. Do your best not to disturb  any item/s that could aid in the location of your child. Let the experts do the in depth search for hidden clues. 

Try not to disturb anything in the child's room or permit a lot of traffic in the room. Protect the clues that may lead to the finding of your child.

Do look under items and in areas that the child might fit or hide. Don't forget the yard surrounding your home.

Ask neighbors to search their homes and yards.

Start calling all of your friends as well as your child's friends and acquaintances to find out he last time they might have seen or talked with your child. 

Get a conversation going to publicize the fact that the child is missing.

3.  Be ready for the police when they arrive.
Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • a detailed description
  • a recent photo of the child
  • a description of the clothing worn by the child at the time of abduction
  • a description of the abductor
  • a description of the vehicle and the direction of flight

Write down all the descriptive information you can about your child. This should include all descriptors, names, nicknames.

Note what all you have done up to this point as an activity log to include times.

List all parent and relative information in include addresses, phone numbers and current relationship status.

List the names of all friends, their addresses and phone numbers.

If there is a witness/es have the respective name/s available along with addresses and phone numbers.

4.  Be Specific When Talking With the Police
Give the date time and location that your child was last seen. Be very specific by using landmarks, street names, buildings or business signs to ensure there is no question about the location the child was last seen.  

Explain in great detail as to what you have done to date with looking for the child and attempts you made to find clues to the child's whereabouts. If there is time, provide a list of what you have done and the places you searched to the police.

If your child was associated with a vehicle, give the vehicle description with as much detail as possible. If you don't know the make and model, look around for a vehicle which is similar.

5.  Be Specific Describing Your Child
If you have a child I.D. or DNA kit, retrieve that for the responding officer. If not, give height, weight, body build, color and length of hair, color of eyes, birth-marks and disabilities.

Not special markings: scars, braces, eyeglasses, pierced ears, etc.

Describe clothing in which the child was last seen. For each item give colors, brand names, rips, and patterns. Include accessories: barrettes, ribbons, earrings, cell phones, beepers, purses, toys etc. Closing your eyes often helps to visualize your child.

Provide any medication names the child takes, when it was last taken and when it is next due.

6.  Help the police really know your child as you do
The police receive many false alarms, so have someone - your pastor, child's school teacher or principal, or a person in the community with name recognition who knows your child - call and attest to your child's integrity.

7.  Have a copy of the most recent color photograph of the child available
Also have a complete physical description ready including a description of the clothes the child was wearing. If you have them, also provide the child' fingerprints, hair sample, and blood type to the responding law enforcement agency.

Do not give away your only photo or your last copy of your last photo taken. Get a copy made and give that to law enforcement. If time is of the essence have it scanned at a local copy service business and put on a disk for law enforcement.

8.  Law enforcement will rely on the information you provide about your child
They use the information to publicize your child as missing and enter your child into a National Crime Information Center computer for accessibility of other law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Make sure you have all important documentation available for investigators, such as the child's birth certificate, Social Security Card, Immunization records, and any custody/parenting plan documents (for cases that involve divorce).

9.  Call the NCMEC toll-free hot-line
Report the missing child to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) toll-free at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). The National Center can issue e-mail alerts about your missing child, distribute posters with your child's photo and information nationwide, and provide support and other resources for you and your family.

10.  Register your missing child with other organizations
Contact other non-profit missing child agencies as well as other clearinghouses in neighboring states. Register your missing child and find out what other search assistance and support services they can provide.

11.  Check for your child's passport
Ensure your child does not have his or her passport so you can attain the ability for the child to be taken out of the country.