Unknown and Young Adults
Depending on the circumstances, you may want to do some basic checks before phoning the police, such as:
Calling and sending text messages to your child’s cell phone. Note if the phone continues to ring, or if it appears to be turned off.
Checking all hospitals to see if your child has been admitted.
Checking your child’s social networking pages (e.g. Facebook, etc.) to see if there has been any activity.
Calling your child’s friends, employer, work colleagues, and roommates to determine who was the last person to have seen your child and when. Ask them to also check your child’s social networking pages for activity.
Checking with your child’s favourite hangouts to see if they have been there.
- You must consider the following question thoroughly and honestly: Is it possible that my child has voluntarily left home, moved away, or has chosen to no longer have contact with their family? If this is a possibility, you may wish to make some initial inquiries such as getting in touch with friends and contacts of your child to determine if they have any information.
- If you think that it’s a possibility that your child has run away from home, please see the Runaway section of this website.
- Ask yourself:
What do I know about my child’s online activities? Is it possible my child met someone online and is now with them?
Are there any adults or friends in my child’s life that I am suspicious of or who may be somehow involved?
What activities was my child involved in? Could one of them have something to do with my child’s disappearance?
Is my child being bullied or having problems with any people in their community?
Also, carefully consider what level of risk of harm you think there is to your child. For example, a very young child, a child with physical or intellectual disabilities, or a child who engages in high-risk behaviour may be at a very high risk of harm, and the steps that you take may be different for children that fall into these categories.
In Canada, you do not have to wait to report your child missing. However, if your child is over the age of majority in your province (i.e. 18 or 19 years old, depending on what province you live in), some jurisdictions may require you to wait 24 to 48 hours before taking your report.
When You Call Police
If your child has gone missing, it is important to report it to law enforcement.
It is most likely that law enforcement will be prompt in responding to your call, but you may need to be persistent in order to ensure that law enforcement is aware of all the circumstances surrounding your child’s disappearance.
Have a recent photograph of your child ready (or have someone search for a photograph).
Be prepared to answer questions about your child including:
Asking for a physical description of your child;
Questions about your child’s behaviour (e.g. are they shy or outgoing, independent or easily manipulated, assertive or passive?);
Questions about your child’s mental and physical health;
Questions about your child’s relationships with family and friends; and
Whether there have been any recent problems or events, including and up to the last time they were seen.
- When you make that first phone call to the police, make sure to get the following information:
An incident number;
The name of the officer taking the report; and
A phone number for any future follow-up calls.
Continue to call and send text messages to your child’s cell phone. Note if the phone continues to ring, or if it appears to be turned off and make sure you tell the police.
Forward the name of your child’s cell phone service provider and their cell phone number to the police. They may be able to work with the company to gain more information about the cell phone’s recent activity and any global positioning system (GPS) information that could be available.
Complete the MissingKids.ca Initial Intake form to see if there is additional support and assistance that can be provided.
Print out this checklist and begin searching for your child.