It's something no parent wants to go through. But if your child goes missing or is abducted, time becomes your greatest enemy.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety offers these steps to take, in case your child is ever missing.

  • File a police or sheriff's report. Include information on where the child was last known to be, as well as the names of the individual's family and friends.
  • Provide officers with a recent photo as soon as possible. Law enforcement can immediately enter child abduction cases into the FBI's National Crime Information Center. The center allows officers nationwide to share information about endangered children, increasing the chance that the child will be found.
  • Request that law enforcement put out a Be On the Look Out (BOLO) Bulletin.
  • Ask for an organized search with the use of tracking dogs if possible.
  • Limit access to your home until law enforcement investigators arrive and have collected evidence. Do not touch or remove anything from your child's room or your home. There may be clues to the whereabouts of your child.
  • Give investigators all the facts and circumstances related to disappearance including what efforts have already been made.
  • Write a detailed description of the clothing worn by the child and any personal items your child had at the time of his or her disappearance. Note any birthmarks, scars, tattoos, or mannerisms, and supply any photo that may show the marks. Give this information to the investigator.
  • Make copies of recent photos for law enforcement, news media, the N.C. Center for Missing Persons, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and any volunteer groups aiding in the search.
  • Designate one person to answer your telephone. Keep a pad of paper by the phone to jot down names, telephone numbers, date and time of calls and the purpose of the call. You may want to get law enforcement to put a tracer on your phone and get an answering machine that will tape calls. You may also want to add a caller ID. If you do not have a cell phone, you may want to get one so that you can be reached at any time. For cases that are older than 30 days, help officers locate dental and medical records.

You can find more information on from the state Department of Public Safety, here.

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