My Child is Missing

Children leave home for a wide variety of reasons, including trouble at school or arguments within the family. They may leave on impulse following a family quarrel or in protest over a rule or an isolated incident.

Sometimes they may be drawn away by something outside of the home such as older friends.
If you’re concerned that your child might be thinking about running away, try taking the following steps.

  • Talk to your children openly and honestly.
  • Listen to them when they talk about their concerns, feelings and any difficulties they may be facing.
  • Respect their emotional responses in every situation.
  • Encourage them to succeed and to work through their differences and struggles.
  • Support your children’s need to gain independence, and develop appropriate relationships with others.
  • Create opportunities for them to learn how to make positive decisions in their lives.

Before contacting the police

  • Go and check the bedroom and any other place where your child might be within the house or building. Check the garden, garage, sheds, grounds and surrounding area.
  • Check with your child’s friends, school, work, neighbours, relatives or anyone else who may know of his or her whereabouts. Ask them to tell you immediately if they hear from your child.
  • Try to contact your child directly via mobile phone, text, or social networking sites (such as BBM, Twitter, Facebook, etc).
  • If you know where your child is and you are still concerned for their safety (eg if they are at a house where you suspect criminal activities are taking place) you can ask the police to carry out a welfare check on that house or location.

Contacting the police

Ring 999 or 101 or your local police telephone number once you have carried out the above checks and you have still not found your child. You do not need to wait for 24 hours. Report your child as missing straight away.

Further information and support

The Children’s Society

Missing People
24 hour confidential helpline on 116 000 or email