What to do if your child runs away

First, contact your child’s friends and his/her boyfriend/girlfriend,
family, your estranged spouse and his/her family, neighbors, your child’s
employer, principal, teachers, coaches, counselors and extracurricular
activity leaders. Find out if your child’s boyfriend/girlfriend or any
other friends are missing. Check to see what, if any, of your child’s
personal belongings are missing. LOOK AT YOUR CHILD?S COMPUTER FOR CLUES.

If you cannot locate your child after an initial search, refer to the
following steps for guidance:

1. CALL, then file a report with your local law enforcement agency.
There is not a 24 hour delay.
2. Have photos of your child readily available.
3. Contact OPERATION LOOKOUT® at the 24 hour HELPLINE–1-800-782-SEEK.
Inform the HELPLINE if a request for a missing persons report is
denied by the police. Operation Lookout will fax, email or mail a
registration packet to you. (register your child with more than one
missing child agency for greater coverage and no-charge help).
4. Operation Lookout will design your color poster for you. Distribute
posters of your child wherever you can as quickly as you are able.
Operation Lookout will make a determination about placing your child?s
picture on the internet and Missing Child “E”LERT System
5. Contact your child?s friends more than once. It is possible that
friends of your child may know where your child is but decide not to
disclose any information. However, if you keep in touch in a
non-threatening way, they may weaken and eventually tell you where
your child is or a possible destination. Be sure to compile a
description of possible travelling companion such as friends or a
boyfriend/girlfriend and as much information about the presumed
travelling companion(s) as possible. Give the information to the
police, and have it included on posters.
6. If your child has run away before, contact the person(s) with whom
he/she was found, and/or search the location where he/she ran
previously. Attempt to identify specific areas where your child might
be. Looking over telephone bills might provide links to persons your
child may have contacted, and might indicate potential destinations.
7. Contact your child?s employer, if applicable. Find out if your
child has missed work shifts, or suddenly quit his/her job.
8. Make a list of hobbies, social security card number, license plate,
etc.
9. Leave a message especially for your child on your telephone
answering machine. Be reassuring, and say that you love him/her, and
that you want to resolve any conflicts between you. Be warm and caring
and lay no blame–your child may have done something unthinkable that
he/she believes would be unforgivable. Leave our HELPLINE number for
return phone calls or messages. Use call screening, caller ID, and
last number features on your phone.
10. Let your child know that you love him/her unconditionally.

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