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Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my child goes missing?

The first step is to call your local police detachment and make a missing person/child report — if it is an emergency, call 911. Have on hand a photograph of your child, a description of your child (including what your child was last seen wearing and the location where your child was last seen) and your child’s identification numbers (i.e. birth certificate, passport, etc.). After making your report to law enforcement, we encourage you to register your missing child with MissingKids.ca in order to access additional support from a trained caseworker. Families do not have to search alone. MissingKids.ca is here to help.

Please visit the links below for further steps to take depending on the circumstances surrounding your child’s disappearance:

  • If your child has been abducted by a stranger or non-family member, click here.

  • If your child has run away, click here.

  • If your child has been taken by their other parent, click here.

  • If your child is lost, click here.

  • If the reason for your child’s disappearance is unknown or if your missing child is a young adult, click here.

Do I need to wait 24 hours before reporting my child missing to the police?

No. In Canada, you do not have to wait to report your child missing. You can make a report at any time — no waiting period is required.

The exception - some jurisdictions may require you to wait 24 to 48 hours before taking your report if your missing child is over the age of majority in your province (18 or 19 years of age depending on the province).

What information do I need to get from the police when I file a missing person/child report?

Make sure you get the following information from the police:

  • The incident number;

  • The name of the officer taking the report; and

  • A number to call for follow up.

What does MissingKids.ca do?

MissingKids.ca is Canada’s missing children resource and response centre. Owned and operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, MissingKids.ca provides:

  • A central location for searching parents to register their missing child and to request additional support from a trained caseworker;

  • Innovative online and offline search tools to enhance search efforts to locate a missing child;

  • The most comprehensive, first-of-its kind, missing children database;

  • Accurate, up-to-date information to searching families, law enforcement, caseworkers and communities;

  • A detailed Community Response Plan, including important tools and checklists, to help guide communities on how best to assist in the search for a child;

  • Important prevention materials for families to help them address personal safety strategies with their children as well as help families concerned about possible abduction or runaway issues with their children;

  • The ability for the public to sign-up for MissingKidsALERTS — a new system developed for the rapid and targeted distribution of important information about a missing child, including the dissemination of missing children posters to specific geographical regions within minutes; and

  • National data and missing children statistics.

Why are AMBER Alerts only issued for certain missing children cases?

Law enforcement will issue an AMBER Alert only in the most dangerous of child abduction cases when time is of the essence. These types of alerts are rarely issued, and police decide on a case-by-case basis whether issuing an AMBER Alert would assist in the recovery of an abducted child. Though each province has its own criteria to determine whether or not an AMBER Alert should be issued, basic requirements include:

  • The child is under the age of 18;

  • There is a belief that the child has been abducted;

  • There is a belief that the child is in imminent danger; and

  • There is information to be released to the public that may help locate the child and/or the abductor (e.g. description of the child, the suspect or the vehicle driven by the abductor).

In some provinces, AMBER Alerts may also be issued for vulnerable adults who have gone missing (e.g. elderly adults, or adults living with an intellectual disability). For more information about Amber Alerts, click here.

How many missing children reports are received by law enforcement in Canada each year?

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), more than 50,000 missing children reports were made to police in Canada in 2009.

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