missing child

Missing child case: What to do & how to do it

A missing child is an often occurrence. I thought about writing this article after I read Atuhairwe Agrace’s post on a judgement delivered by the High Court in Kampala, where a woman was duped into thinking that her baby had died, yet it had been a victim of abductors.

Your teenage daughter/son, your young one who has just started school may go missing. Usually, the reason behind their going missing may not be known, until the child has been found. Reasons range from abduction, kidnapping (usually for ransom), religious/cult sacrifices, a child may lose their way home, or the child could actually be hiding in that big box in the house.

A missing child is every parent’s nightmare. Children go missing for a number of reasons. Some are simply lost and can’t find their way home, while others are victims of kidnapping and abduction. What might happen to a child when they go missing brings emotional and psychological torture to their parents.

As a parent or a child’s care giver, or a colleague or friend to such a parent or caregiver, here are things you can do when a child goes missing:

  • Report to the police

The police will need a lot of information about your child. Your child’s name, date of birth, height, and weight, a detailed description of the clothing worn by your child and the personal items he or she had at the time of the disappearance, a detailed description of any personal identification marks, such as birthmarks, scars, tattoos, or mannerisms, that may help in finding your child.

The police may also ask for a picture of your child.  Do not feel violated when the police asks for a list of friends, relatives, acquaintances, and anyone else who might have information or clues about your child’s whereabouts. Also provide details of places that your child often visits or any new relationship or social groups that your child may be involved in.

  • Enquire from your neighbors and the general neighborhood if they have seen your missing child
  • If you are a colleague or a friend, start a volunteer group to forma search party for the missing child.
  • Encourage an adult with whom the child is familiar to stay home when the rest of the search party begins their search. This is so that others will be alerted in case the child returns home.
  • Share information about the missing child in media

This should only be done with coordination with the police. This is so that you do not duplicate each other’s efforts at finding the child. Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others. Run an informative bulletin in a local daily. Remember to share any suspicious circumstances you noted before the disappearance of your child.

Keep your lawyer in the loop.

May you never go through such an ordeal!


This article appears in our weekly digital law magazine, The Deuteronomy Vol 1, Issue 4 of January 27th 2017

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