Know Your Child
Getting to know your child’s friends and acquaintances is essential in developing a healthy parent-child relationship. Not only does getting to know your child’s friends help with openness and trust, but it is also paramount in the event of a child’s disappearance. One of the biggest mistakes that parents can make is not putting in the effort to know who their child is associating with. This includes getting to know classmates, after school friends, neighbors, and parents of friends.
The first 48 hours of a child’s disappearance are the most traumatic as well as the most important in a missing child case. Naturally, the family wants to search for their missing child alone, with no help from others. The resilience to reach out for help often stems from the shame associated with losing a child, especially in endangered runaway cases. One of the first steps after realizing a child is missing is to contact all friends, acquaintances, and friend’s parents regarding the whereabouts of your child. Getting to know your child’s friends and acquaintances will make this step much more powerful and useful in the first 48 hours of disappearance. This openness in a child to parent relationship can be a life saver.
The best way to prepare is to create a list of friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who might be close to your child. Thinking ahead, in the event of an emergency these people should have information or clues about your child’s whereabouts. This list should include names, telephone numbers, addresses, and relationship to the child. If prepared properly, this list can give structure and clarity in such an always tumultuous first 48 hours. Additionally, it is always important to tell your investigator about anyone who has moved in or out of the neighborhood within the past year, as well as anyone who is involved with the family. This detail is often overlooked in these stressful situations.
It is Never Too Late
Some may be reading this thinking that they do not have a healthy enough relationship with their child to even know who they associate with in everyday life. It is never too late to start that relationship and learn more about your child. Once the friends are identified, a good idea is to get to know the parents of the children as well. Organizing get-togethers or just talking with a parent on the phone are both great ways to gather vital emergency contact information. This small step of getting to know more about your child’s life can help prepare for if the unthinkable were to strike.