Every day children are missing from their homes for any number of reasons -- a toddler at play wanders away, a teenager in turmoil runs away, a child is abducted by a noncustodial parent or even by someone unknown to him or her.

The crisis of a missing child calls on every ounce of courage and determination that parents and other family members can muster. The search for a missing child demands a timely and coordinated response by parents and law enforcement alike. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has published When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide with the hope that it may afford parents the critical information, guidance, and tools they need to work with law enforcement agencies to help find their missing child.

This Guide is not the product of abstract academic research. It was written (with assistance from law enforcement and youth service professionals) by parents who have experienced the trauma of a missing child. It provides firsthand insights into what parents should do and what they should expect, and offers heartfelt words of hope and encouragement at a time when they are needed most. When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide describes the steps that families and law enforcement agencies take as they forge a constructive partnership in their efforts to find the missing child.

I pray that you never experience the trauma of a missing child, but I hope that this Guide provides practical assistance and moral support to all who face this tragic circumstance.

Shay Bilchik
Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention

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OJJDP Report: When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide, May 1998