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How to Respond When You See a Missing Child

By Edited Aug 23, 2016 3 3

You are out and about running your errands and you spot a child you recognize as being listed as missing. What do you do? While it will be extremely challenging not to run up and save the child, you absolutely should not attempt a "rescue". There area steps to follow to ensure a safe outcome for everyone involved.

Call 9-1-1 immediately. Remain calm and speak with a calm voice. You don't want to attract the attention of the abductor or the child. The 9-1-1 operator will have had some amount of training on how to best handle the situation and it is up to you to clearly and calmly provide information. You will be asked to remain on the line until the situation is resolved.

Observe the abductor and the missing child from a distance. Relate everything you see, how they interact and describe the other people in the area. Responding officers need to know what they are facing when they arrive. Because the abductor may be armed, the police won't just rush in. Individuals who have been held hostage or kidnapped often bond with their abductors. This is called Stockholm Syndrome. It may be confusing to you how this could happen, but it does. It is also believed to play a major role in the victim's survival. A child suffering from this will respond negatively to rescue attempts so it is important that trained individuals execute a rescue.

Tell the operator the location where you see the missing child. If they are entering a vehicle, provide a description of the vehicle and the license plate number. Chances are, you will want to follow the vehicle when it moves. Provide information of what direction you are moving. Provide a description of your car and your license plate number so responding offices will be able to identify your car also. Try your best not to "spook" the abductor and to not lose site of the vehicle. Stay on the phone and update your location as it changes.

Observe how the abductor and the child are dressed, what color their hair is (many dye their hair or that of the missing child), if they are wearing sunglasses, carrying bags or any other descriptive information that will assist with police officers identifying them.

When you see a squad car approaching, verify with the 9-1-1 operator that the officers are indeed there to intercept the abductor and the missing child. If they are, pull over and park. Do not get in the way of the responding police officers.

Provide a physical description of yourself if this situation is occurring in a public place. Responding officers will want to be able to locate you. Remain on the line with the 9-1-1 center.

Continue to answer any questions that are asked of you. You may also have been transferred to a police officer at some point during the situation and they will continue asking questions. Once responding officers have identified you, you will be able to hang up. Once the abductor is in custody, and the missing child is safe, officers will want to question you so be available. Comply with any requests.

Don't try to be a hero and attempt a rescue, you could make the situation far worse. Just by spotting the missing child and calling 9-1-1 you are a hero.

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Comments

Sep 15, 2009 2:12pm
capecreator
Excellent advice on what to do when seeing a missing child.
Oct 5, 2009 2:21pm
mommyhen42
Great information on what to do when you spot a missing child. Everyone should read this article. Well Done!
Dec 8, 2011 12:32am
AuroraWindsor
Nice article. It is important to know what to do when there is a missing child.
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