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What Should You Do If You See a Child Who Appears To Be Lost?

NCJ Number
Date Published
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC)
This brief by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) instructs youth and adults in what to do when they observe a child who appears to be lost.
Eight steps are listed. First, do not assume it is not your concern; provide help. Second, comfort the child without physically touching him/her. Third, ask the child if he/she is lost or knows the location of his/her parent/guardian. Fourth, do not ask the child for detailed personal information, since most children are taught not to provide such information to a person they do not know. Fifth, report the situation to law-enforcement authorities. Sixth, ask other adults in the area for assistance in reporting the situation to a person in a position of authority in the area while waiting for law enforcement’s arrival. Seventh, remain in the immediate location; do not take the child from the place he/she was first noticed. Eighth, wait with the child until help arrives. In addition to these eight instructions, the brief advises that if one recognizes the child as one who is described as missing based on media reports or other missing-child alerts, call law enforcement and follow their instructions.
Date Created: September 30, 2018