The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® intakes reports about missing children, younger than 18 years of age, who have run away from a parent, guardian or state care facility. Case management teams within the Critical and Runaway Unit provide technical assistance to law enforcement and support the runaway's family. Case management teams also partner with law enforcement agencies to help locate runaway children believed to be victimized through child sex trafficking.
What to do if your child has run away
- Immediately call your local law enforcement agency.
- After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678).
Ask law enforcement to enter information about your child into the FBI's National Crime Information Center database, known as NCIC. Federal law requires a specific, timely response from law enforcement agencies. If you have any difficulties getting law enforcement to take a report or enter information about your child into this database see the federal laws listed in the Legal Resources for Runaway Children section. Also contact NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or your missing child clearinghouse.
When contacting NCMEC be prepared to provide detailed biographical information about your child as well as information about the circumstances surrounding the runaway event.
How can NCMEC's case management team help?
The case management team will coordinate the creation and dissemination of posters to help generate leads. Information about your child must be entered in the FBI's National Crime Information Center so a poster can be created. The case management team will assist in forwarding leads called into NCMEC to the investigating law enforcement agency. It will also make appropriate referrals to families in crisis and needing emotional support to NCMEC's Family Advocacy Division and/or Team HOPE.
For available services and support see NCMEC's Victim and Family Support and Team HOPE services.
What if I believe my child is being victimized through prostitution?
When you make a report with law enforcement and NCMEC let all parties know of your suspicion and the basis of your belief. The case management team will coordinate with other NCMEC divisions as well as local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. For more information contact NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
- For information about state laws regarding runaway children, refer to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and National Network for Youth's publication Alone Without a Home: A State-by-State Review of Laws Affecting Unaccompanied Youth.
- Visit the National Runaway Safeline for more information on runways, how to leave a message for a child and transportation assistance for runaways.