What to do if a child is missing

If a child is missing, family and friends should immediately notify local law enforcement. If a child is abducted, time is valuable.

Go to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children more tips on what to do if your child is missing.

  • File a police or sheriff's report. Include information on where the child was last known to be, as well as names of the individual's family and friends.
  • Provide officers with a recent photo as soon as possible. Law enforcement can immediately enter child abduction cases into the FBI's National Crime Information Center. The center allows officers nationwide to share information about endangered children, increasing the chance that the child will be found.
  • Request that law enforcement put out a Be On the Look Out (BOLO) Bulletin.
  • Ask for an organized search with the use of tracking dogs if possible.
  • Limit access to your home until law enforcement investigators arrive and have collected evidence. Do not touch or remove anything from your child's room or your home. There may be clues to the whereabouts of your child.
  • Give investigator all facts and circumstances related to disappearance including what efforts have already been made.
  • Write a detailed description of clothing worn by the child and any personal items your child had at the time of his or her disappearance. Note any birthmarks, scars, tattoos, or mannerisms, and supply any photo that may show the marks. Give this information to the investigator.
  • Make copies of recent photos for law enforcement, news media, the N.C. Center for Missing Persons, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and any volunteer groups aiding in the search.
  • Designate one person to answer your telephone. Keep a pad of paper by the phone to jot down names, telephone numbers, date and time of calls and the purpose of the call. You may want to get law enforcement to put a tracer on your phone and get an answering machine that will tape calls. You may also want to add caller ID. If you do not have a cell phone, you may want to get one so that you can be reached at any time. For cases that are older than 30 days, help officers locate dental and medical records.

N.C. Center for Missing Persons: 1-800-522-5437

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:  1-800–THE LOST (1-800-843-5678)

Citizen Letter of Commendation July 23, 2013

FBI Application 

To store photos and vital information about your children so that it's literally right at hand if you need it, download the application below. You can show the pictures and provide physical identifiers such as height and weight to security or police officers on the spot. Using a special tab on the app, you can also quickly and easily e-mail the information to authorities with a few clicks.