Each year, thousands of parents and guardians find themselves in a frightening situation full of unknowns: Their child is missing. What are you supposed to do if a loved one disappears, asks the Orlando Sentinel? Call police immediately. Time is critical. “The sooner the parent or guardian responds, the better,” said Nancy McBride of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In 2008, nearly 47,000 children were reported missing in Florida. Most cases were resolved quickly and with the safe return of the child. Some involved repeat runaways.
When a child disappears, McBride suggests parents think like a child. Where might a boy or girl hide? Under furniture? Inside or under a car? Could they have locked themselves in the trunk? What should a parent do after calling police? Said Drew Kesse, whose daughter was 24 when she vanished from her Orlando condo in January 2006: Call hospitals and jails. The Kesses assigned friends and family to repeatedly call specific places and people. Then they hit the streets. “That day, within three hours of getting to Orlando, we were standing on the corners with fliers,” Kesse said. One thing the Kesses wish they had done is document the abduction area. Kesse suggests photographing everything from license plates to cars to people. Talk to people in the area. Knock on every door. “These are the things you don’t think of,” he said. Kesse said families need to contact media outlets. “Start getting that face and that name out,” he said. “If you do have a family member strong enough, have that family member with police to do [media] interviews.”