Monday, March 17, 2008

First Steps to find the Missing

According to the Dept of Justice, there are roughly 110,282 active missing person cases on record for 2006. Children under the age of 18 account for 53 % of the records and 11% were for young adults between the ages of 18 and 20.

People go missing for a variety of reasons and many are found or return on their own. Roughly 10% are never seen or heard from again. If you find yourself in a situation where a loved one, friend or collegue is missing and you suspect something is not right please see the list below.
Take care of yourself You are the vital link to your loved one. You are the one who can motivate others to keep searching.

Contact local law enforcementSome
law enforcement agencies are reluctant to take a report of a missing adult. Stress that you are concerned for his or her safety.

Get Help from Others
People want to help but they often don't know what to do. Give them tasks – don’t wait for them to ask. They can help with phone calls, completing forms, mailing flyers, reaching out to the media, making certain you take care of yourself, etc.

Collect personal items.
Collect some articles of unwashed clothing. Put his/her toothbrush and/or comb or hairbrush in a brown paper bag. Check with the police before you do this. Some states have enacted laws that require police do this collection from all reported missing person, regardless of age of the missing.

Keep a telephone log
Keep track of how you talk to, from what agency they are from and what the call was about. Remember to write down the time and date as well. This will help to keep things straight and have an on-going list of contacts.

Collect recent photos to be used to make flyers. Full frontal photos are more desirable.
Flyers do help. It’s helpful to use a candid natural photo rather than a posed shot. This will assist people in recognizing your loved one. Make certain that these flyers are posted in the types of areas and retail establishments that your loved one would frequent
Provide bus/train stations with a flyer or picture of your child. Bus stations don’t usually keep track of the names of people on busses but employees may recognize a picture or a description.

Contact the Media
Although TV seldom features missing adults, it is sometimes possible to find a sympathetic columnist with a newspaper who will cover the story and print a photo. Designate a spokesperson that can speak to the media and develop a press kit with relevant information.

Stick to the facts
Keep the reporters to the facts. Don’t be swayed by leading questions. Disregard their speculation or unfounded rumors. You will carry more credibility if you simply stick to the facts.
Hold awareness eventsMedia attention will generate leads. Volunteers can organize many events that will keep the story in the hearts and minds of the public.

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