What to do if…Missing from Home
Children go missing for a number of reasons, but in general, the factors leading up to missing episodes are:
- Arguments and conflicts (whether at home or in placement).
- Difficulties within family relationships.
- Abuse and neglect.
- Pushing boundaries and challenging parental/carers control.
What to do:
- Call, text and message your child via mobile, social media or apps. Stay calm, show them you’re concerned and just want them home safe.
- Check your house, garage and any outdoor spaces. Ask friends or family if anyone knows where they are.
- Call the police on 101 or call 999 if you think someone is in immediate danger. Tell them you are reporting your child as missing and give any other information you have about any recent concerns.
- The police will provide you with a crime Reference number. Record their name, collar number and ask for details of who will be dealing with the matter.
- Check to see if your child has taken anything like their phone, money or clothes. Look on their tablet, social media and laptop to see if there is any helpful information or if they have had contact with people recently. See if any of their friends have also gone missing. Share any new information with police.
- The police will come out and take a full report, asking for details about your child, a recent photo and information like when they was last seen and if there are any reasons why your child has left.
- Keep your phone close to you in case they contact you and check any other ways they may get a message to you e.g apps, social media. Make sure someone stays at the house in case they come back.
Why it matters:
Children who go missing are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and violence, and need to be kept safe.
The immediate risks associated with going missing include:
- Becoming a victim of abuse/crime (e.g. sexual assault or exploitation).
- Increased vulnerability.
- Alcohol/substance misuse.
- Deterioration of mental/physical health.
- Missing out on schooling and education.
- Involvement in criminal activities.
- No means of support or legitimate income – leading to high risk activities and people of concern taking advantage of this.
Questions to consider:
- What do we do when children go missing?
- Does our response depend on age, gender or other factors?
- Are there things we could change in our behaviour and responses to reduce the risks of young people going missing?
- Are there things we can do with young people to reduce the risk of them going missing and help them understand why we are concerned when they are missing?
- Do we know what is expected of us when children go missing and when they return?
- Do we promote return home interviews where young people have opportunity to talk to an independent person about why they went missing to help stop it happening again.