Thousands of people are reported missing daily around the United States. Some are found years down the line, others in a matter of hours and many still are missing.
When it comes to children, missing person cases tend to attract more attention. In Missouri, there are currently 477 active missing children cases, according to numbers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The truth though about missing children can be hard to understand. Each case is unique and reasons behind why children go missing vary. A child who is missing may have run away, been abducted, lost or possibly even abandoned.
Adrianne Thompson, president of Spread Awareness Now, a nonprofit organization focused on finding missing children in the Missouri area, said that missing children cases aren’t as simple as many may think.
“It is a multifaceted issue, a lot of things can go into children being reported missing,” Thompson said.
Typically, 90% of children who are missing are found, but what about the other 10%?
“We are concerned with that 10% greatly — those are the children that are most likely to be trafficked and are very vulnerable,” said Sgt. Jason Strong of the St. Joseph Police Department’s family crimes unit. “We work really diligently to identify those children that have that type of risk.”
Children can go missing unexpectedly, so for all parents it is important to have an identification kit for each child that includes an up-to-date picture, identifying information and their fingerprints. This kit is essential to providing law enforcement with information to launch an investigation if a child goes missing.
When a child goes missing, it’s important to act immediately as time is an important element.
“Call the police. If it’s an infant or a young kid, call 911. This myth about you have to wait so many hours for a police report to be made,” said David Wilson, president and police liaison of Be-United Missing Persons. “No, the minute that person is missing you call the police and the police report should be filed.”
Whether a child is abducted or ran away from home, every case is important regardless of the circumstance and the community should remain vigilant to bring them home, he said.
“It takes a village and I have friends, you have friends, everyone out there has friends that are on Facebook,” Wilson said. “You share that flyer, your friends share flyers and it goes out across the nation, it goes across the internet in a matter of seconds.”
With the public’s help there is a better chance of bringing a missing child back to their home.
Anyone who has information about a missing child should call 800-877-3452.