As of May 1st, 2011, there had been 522 children reported missing in the state of Missouri. Only 9 days later, that number had jumped to 575. With our children being so at risk in today’s society, it is crucial that you, as a parent, practice proper safety guidelines but also know what information you should have if ever your child becomes missing.
Suddenly realizing that you do not know where your child is stops your heart in an instant. It does not take long for panic to set in and yet, the most important thing you can do if you find yourself in that situation is to remain calm, but act as quickly as possible. If you are at home, look in every possible place your child could have hidden, fallen asleep or become injured and not be seen. If you are in a store or public place, alert employees immediately, so that safety practices such as locking exits or gaining the assistance of all employees can be implemented immediately. If your child can not be located, call your local police department right away. As soon as you have obtained the help of local police, also notify The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children by calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
If your child is missing, giving an accurate and current description of your child will help anyone involved in a search. You should always be able to provide the following information:
- Your child’s full name
- Height and weight
- Hair and eye color
- Child’s blood type
- Detailed description of the clothing your child was wearing
- The time and exact location where your child was last seen
- Whether anyone you know could be a potential suspect, even if you don’t want to believe it
Furthermore, knowing your child’s distinguishing features can help searchers pinpoint your child. Be sure to tell authorities if your child has a birthmark, scar, piercing, wears braces, has missing teeth, a physical deformity or any feature that may help identify your child. If your child requires medication or regular medical treatment, be sure to pass along that information as well.
In the event your child is missing, it’s quite natural to be panic-stricken. When you are frightened, you may not be able to think clearly or may mix up important information. For this reason, you should be prepared ahead of time. Place the phone number of your local police department in a prominent place where you will be able to find it in an emergency. Also, write down critical information about your child and store it in a place that you will remember. Tell another family member where you have stored the information, so that if you are unable to function during the crisis, someone else can provide the needed information.
For your convenience, visit The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Take 25 campaign website. There, you may print a Child ID Kit, which provides a place for you to write pertinent information. You may also contact St. Louis County Police or your local precinct to obtain an ID kit, which normally includes a fingerprint and DNA kit as well.
Of course, the best way to help your child is through prevention. Visit the St. Louis Personal Protection Examiner’s website for safety tips or browse the helpful articles available through The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
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