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What to do when your child goes missing - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

What to do when your child goes missing

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What to do when your child goes missing What to do when your child goes missing
SHREVEPORT, La. -

You might think that it will never happen to your family: a child simply vanishes and parents are left scrambling to find their loved one.

According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, what you do immediately after a child is missing could mean the difference between life or death for that child.

The center says three hours is a crucial time frame because studies 76% of abducted children who are murder are dead within three hours of the abduction.

There are currently 28 people documented as missing from the state of Louisiana. They went missing when they were children. If many of them were found today, most would be grown adults, but- according to statistics- most of them will never be found.

Authorities agree, a parent's first move when a child goes missing is to call police, but a few preventative measures can save investigators precious hours when time matters the most.

"For an amber alert, you would have to be a stranger abduction and be in immediate danger," says Shreveport Police Lieutenant Dennis Pratt.

Pratt says his missing person division- with four investigators- gets calls about missing and runaway children every day. They have about 25 to 30 open cases right now. Their best tactic to finding a missing child starts with the parent.

"[We] find out who the kid's friends are, where they hang out at," Pratt says. "Is the child a habitual runaway? Does the child have a substance abuse problem?"

Pratt says there are a few pieces of information that parents should have available to get the investigation started right away.

That includes an up-to-date photograph and physical information like height or weight. They say distinguishing characteristics like glasses, braces, birthmarks or tattoos are often helpful in the description.

Police also a child's social security number, and- if you have records- their fingerprints.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends these search steps for parents after the initial call to 911:

  • Check the Closets
  • Search piles of laundry
  • In and under beds
  • Inside large appliances
  • Vehicles - including trunks
  • Anywhere else that a child may crawl or hide

If you are in a store, experts say to alert a manager so they can activate a Code Adam procedure.

Certain agencies- including the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office- typically help parents with fingerprint records at events during the school year, but concerned parents can also buy a kit online for under $10. The website Child Safe Kit will ship and ID kit to your home, free of charge.

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