Notify your local police department or county sheriff immediately. Ask them to fill out a normal police report. They will try to gather as much information as possible that will aid them in finding your child. They will follow police protocol and procedures to most effectively proceed in your best interests. Be fully cooperative and do as they instruct.
Call the National Runaway Safeline if you sense your child or teen has runaway. The toll-free number is 1-800-RUNAWAY or 1-800-786-2929. The National Runaway Safeline will assist you free of charge. Safeline has access to thousands of resources throughout the country, including support groups, counseling and drug treatment centers, runaway shelters, and homeless housing. They also have a wealth of information regarding legal issues and medical concerns. Among the services they offer are crisis intervention, and “home free” travel via Greyhound bus. They also provide a message center where you could leave a message in the event your child calls Safeline.
Spread the word to everyone you know that your child or teen is missing. Ask people to report any information, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Let everyone know that you have reported your child missing to the National Runaway Safeline and that this service will act as an intermediary. It could be that your child’s friends know more than they are willing to admit. It is important that you emphasize you are not angry, just anxious to be reunited, and concerned about your child’s welfare.
Contact the media in your area: all local newspapers, TV and radio stations. Create one sheet of information about your missing child with a picture and contact details. Ask for help from the media. Coverage might act as a catalyst to generate more information, to keep people’s attention on your missing child. Also, your child or teen may hear a broadcast or read a story about their case.
Visit your child’s school.Talk with the principal and teachers in person. Ask for any information, anything, no matter how small or inconsequential. Perhaps a teacher might know of some out-of-character behavior or has overheard information that might end up being useful.
Lock down your child’s computer. Turn it off and do not let anyone have access to it except for law enforcement or a reputable private detective. This is important because your child’s computer will have information about their habits, friends, schedule, and emails. Try to construct a timeline of the last days before your child went missing.
Social Networking sites and chat rooms can also provide valuable information about the life your child is living online.
Gather paperwork with potential clues. As you fill in the blanks of what happened, this additional information will add to the picture. It includes records such as phone bills, credit card activity, bus or airline tickets, bank statements, and employment records.
Install Caller Identification on your phone and be sure your answering machine or voice mail service is working properly. You may hear from your child, or someone may phone you with an anonymous tip.