Are You Prepared If Your Child Goes Missing?

Are You Prepared If Your Child Goes Missing?

By: Amanda K. Fox

Each year in the US, nearly 800,000 children under the age of 18 are reported as missing. That breaks down to about 2,185 children each day or about 91 missing children per hour. Keep in mind, this is just in the US, not worldwide. Worldwide statistics are very rough estimates at best because in some countries children are rarely reported missing because there is no one to report to or statistics aren’t even kept. What is sad is that worldwide statistics, rough or not, are not needed to impress what a horrible epidemic this is.



Missing Children (Photo By: FBI)

Of those 800,000 children, about 200,000 are abducted by family members. The scenario often plays out that a non or partial custodial parent takes their child(ren) and transports them across state lines. In a smaller number of cases, it is a custodial parent taking their child(ren) across state lines or abroad without proper consent, defying a court order. About 58,000 children are abducted by non-family members, and on average, in about 115  cases each year it is a matter of “stereotypical kidnapping” in which the child is abducted by a stranger or mild acquaintance who transports the child 50 miles or more, holds them overnight, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.

Where does that leave the other 540,000 or so children that do not fit into the above categories? Most are written off as runaways. Some may have been abducted, but for one reason or another, not enough evidence is ever gathered to handle their cases as such. It’s a gray area that no one talks about much. In many cases, no one will ever really know what happened to these kids. It begs a question though – what if?

What if parents were prepared for this happening? It sounds grim, but it is a reality of the world we live in. Bad things happen, often for no rational reason, and it is those who are prepared for it that often weather the storm the best. There are typically three different types of parents when it comes to being prepared for the horrible possibility of having a child go missing.

The first type of parent is the wholly unprepared parent. They typically never consider the possibility a reality. Sadly, the thought rarely crosses their mind unless they see something about a missing child. This is a phenomena present in all socio-economic classes – some people just do not want to think their child could ever go missing so they fail to prepare for it. In some cases, they aren’t aware of how to be prepared even if they wanted to be.



Missing Children (Image from NYS Criminal Justice Division )

The second type of parent in relation to this is the under-prepared parent. They do know that their child going missing is a possibility and they typically have some level of preparedness for that. According to law enforcement professionals, in some cases the unprepared parents do have a missing child kit, but it is out of date – sometimes by several years or more.

Finally, you have the prepared parent. They typically have a missing child kit that is current and can be used by the authorities to begin an immediate search. This, unfortunately, is the vast minority of parents.

What do you need to be prepared?


  1. A current photo of your child with a plain background. The photo should be face forward and cover from the mid-chest range to the top of the head. A profile picture taken at the same time is also helpful. Digital images are preferred.
  2.  A thorough physical description of the child. Include hair color and style, eye color, height and weight, age and sex. Provide any nicknames the child may respond to. As appropriate, detail any scars or distinguishing marks, piercings and tattoos. Physical/emotional disabilities should be included along with any medications the child may need.
  3. You should have your child’s fingerprints which have been collected by a trained law enforcement professional. Dental records should also be included whenever possible. If possible, a professionally prepared DNA kit should also be included.
  4. Keep a daily log of what your child is wearing, when you last saw them (Dropped off at school 7:30am etc…) and anything else that may be scheduled for them on a particular day such as track practice at school 3:00pm for example.



Missing Children (Florida Department of Law Enforcement)

No parent likes to consider their child could be a missing children statistic. Even the best prepared parents sometimes face the horror of this reality. Having a kit made will not prevent your child from ever going missing, but it will greatly increase the odds of bringing them home quickly and safely. The faster you can provide law enforcement officials with accurate information about your child, the quicker an Amber Alert can be signaled and the quicker they can disseminate a description to start the search. The first 24 hours a child is missing are the most crucial – don’t waste any of it looking for what the authorities need. Have it on hand and current.

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  1. My daughter is heading off to Italy ro study next semester and even at 20 year of age, I still worry about her. We are requiring that she watch Taken and Taken 2 before she goes. The problems are real! Thanks for discussing this important topic.

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