Do You Know What to Do When Your Child Goes Missing In Public?

As a mom living with anxiety, I don’t LOVE public events and spaces that make it easy to literally “get lost in a crowd.” But of course it’s impossible to avoid these places ENTIRELY, and I also don’t want my kids to miss out on the fun of festivals, carnivals, amusement parks, and community gatherings. So I deal. Yet, there have been a few moments of panic, even on a crowded playground, when I’ve looked up suddenly and not been able to see my child. A moment like that will stop a mama’s heart.

I’m not good in a panic situation, and I REALLY do not know what to do if my child goes missing in public.

Yesterday, a friend shared a blog post with me by Vicky of Oliver’s Outings called “Do you know what to do if you look round and your child is gone?” (Vicky’s writing makes it clear that she’s British or Australian, what I mean is, her style is definitely not American English and I love it!) Vicky is a young mom to a baby boy, Oliver, but she told a heart-pounding story about her 4-year-old  nephew’s sudden disappearance from a local beach fair that will help parents know exactly what to do when their child goes missing in public.

Photo: Oliver’s Outings

Vicky describes what happened, and it could happen to ANY parent! She says,

Jake was just 4yrs old at the time and like every other child, he knew not to ever talk to strangers or leave his parents when out, so what went wrong?

The whole family were at a beach event in Bournemouth. It was very busy so Lucinda (his mum) was holding his hand, Jake is a shy boy so had no interest in leaving her side anyway.

They stopped to look at a stall and she let go of his hand to pick something up, it was just a couple of minutes, if that.

When she looked round to take his hand he wasn’t there!

What to do when your child goes missing in public

Vicky says Jake’s mum immediately began looking around for him and loudly calling his name, but she couldn’t see him. Fortunately, an army steward who was working the event noticed the distressed mum and asked her what was wrong and who she was looking for. When he found out it was a missing child, he sprang into action. Gathering his fellow army personnel working the event, he ordered them to start yelling as the canvassed the beach. They yelled who they were looking for, his age, and a physical description with what he was wearing, and they loudly repeated it over and over. Vicky says

Now this may seem an obvious and simple thing but the quick timing and detail they shouted was undoubtedly what saved him!

“We are looking for a boy” “He is 4yrs old, blonde and in a red T shirt. Have you seen him?”  They repeated this loudly and constantly as they covered the areas nearby.

Within 15 (harrowing) minutes, they found little Jake all by himself a little further down the beach. Unfortunately, it was NOT just a case of a child wandering off by himself. When questioned, Vicky says,

The detail Jake gave would make any parents blood run cold… “There was a bald man in a white T shirt, he said he would take me to see a real rocket ship” He wasn’t inclined to lie as a child and this seemed very genuine.

Because Jake’s mum noticed he was gone right away, and because a description of him was shouted loudly all over the beach very quickly, police suspect the man realized he would not be able to get away with the boy, and so he just left him and hurried off.

So? If your child goes missing in public, get as many people as you can to shout loudly WHO you are looking for and the child’s description!

If they are still there, they will surely be spotted and if someone is trying to take them, he or she will surely be scared off.

Vicky says the local police think that Jake’s attempted abduction was an unplanned one – a crime of opportunity. The man saw his chance and took it, but she says, “He had to walk a fair way on the beach before he could get to the road, so it was risky.” Once he heard people shouting about a missing boy, he simply escaped, thankfully realizing he would NOT be able to take Jake with him.

Vicky ends her article by saying,

I truly hope none of you are ever in this situation but if you are then just shout, loud and clear, who you are looking for and what they look like.

Don’t be afraid to ask people to help you in other directions too.

Please share this so it can help others in the same way it did Jake, it could have been a very different ending without such quick actions.

I must say, I am glad a friend shared this article with me, because as I mentioned before, I am anything but level-headed, and it helps to have a plan of action in place if your child goes missing in public. Even the VERY best of parents can lose track of their kids once in awhile, as I am sure we all know.

Some other tips to keep track of your kiddos in public or help them when they’re lost:

  • Make your child a bead bracelet with number beads spelling out their name and your cell phone number
  • At night events such as fireworks, put glow necklaces and bracelets on them to help them stick out
  • Dress them in brightly colored clothing (my son has a neon shirt I love him to wear in crowded places)
  • Put them in noticeable accessories, like a crazy hat that is hard to miss.

I sincerely hope NONE of you will ever have to use the tip that Vicky gave us here, but the MORE you know, the more you plan, the safer your kids will be. Make sure to check out Vicky’s Oliver’s Outings Facebook page for more and please share this post with other parents!



Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.

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