PHOENIX — A Peoria, Ariz., family had a happy ending after their young teen was found out of state but safe and sound over the weekend. But as a parent, if you think your child has gone missing, when should you call police?
“There’s a myth that there has to be a waiting period, 24 hours, or whatever it is, there’s no waiting period,” said Glendale Police Sgt. Jay O’Neill. “We take missing children and other people that are at risk very seriously and so we would encourage people to immediately local law enforcement.”
Even if your child runs away, and you think you know where they are at, the parents need to call the police, he said.
“They need to be reported as missing immediately, and then law enforcement needs to go over and take custody of the child,” O’Neill said.
The best proactive advice is to be in touch with your children, knowing your children and talking to your child, he said.
“We’ve all heard instances where people and children especially lead different between when they’re at home and when they’re with their friends,” O’Neill said. “The biggest thing is building trust with your kids, allowing them the opportunity to speak open and honestly with you.”
Then once you have that relationship developed, begin looking for the warning signs such as when they shut down or begin to hide things from you, he said.
“We encourage parents to be involved with their kids’ social media,” O’Neill said. “There should not be an expectation of privacy to a certain extent with kids and social media.”
No need to “friend” or “follow” them, he said, but knowing the social media accounts they have and having access to them really helps you keep up with what is really going on in their lives.