If you suspect a child is missing, call 911 immediately! There is no waiting period for reporting a missing child. If a child is not where they are supposed to be, do not hesitate to call police.
In some instances, when a child is missing, the Department will issue a local SARAA Alert or national AMBER Alert. The criteria for those alerts are listed below.
The following four specific criteria must be met before a law enforcement agency can initiate a SARAA alert:
- The child must be 16 years of age or younger and the law enforcement agency believes that the child has been kidnapped (i.e., unwillingly taken from the environment without permission from the child’s parent or legal guardian as defined in RSMo 565.110).
- There is belief that the child is in danger of serious great bodily harm or death.
- An investigation has verified the kidnapping and eliminated alternative explanations.
- Sufficient information is available to disseminate to the public that could assist in locating the kidnapped child, alleged suspect or the alleged suspect’s vehicle.
Summary of Department of Justice Recommended Criteria for an AMBER ALERT:
- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
- The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
- The child is age 17 or younger.
- The child’s name and other critical date elements including the Child Abduction flag have been entered.
If you suspect your child has run away, in addition to contacting police it is often helpful to contact relatives, friends, teachers, neighbors and others who might know where the child is.