Running away is not a crime. Because they are juveniles, the child will be entered into a national database (NCIC). If an officer anywhere in the country runs a computer check on the child, a notification will come up advising the officer of the runaway status. The officer will then verify the child's identity and the child's parents will be contacted to take custody of their child.
A runaway child is always at risk and demands prompt attention by law enforcement. Therefore, police are empowered under the law to take a runaway child into protective custody, but the child cannot be placed into a lockdown facility or juvenile detention center. Being a runaway is not a crime, only a status offense.
Police cannot make a forced entry into a private home to recover a runaway child, unless the child is in danger or life-threatening situation. Police, however, can assist parents when a runaway is uncooperative or there is a risk of violence.
The Kansas City Missouri Police Department is willing to assist you in finding your child. However, the primary responsibility for locating a runaway falls on the parent or guardian of the child. Finding and recovering a runaway child depends greatly on the active and aggressive participation of the parent or guardian. Searching for your child may seem overwhelming and a parent will feel completely lost as how to search or where to start.
Parents or guardians are urged to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678. NCMEC is a non-profit organization that will help parents in locating runaways and missing children. They can assist parents in creating flyers and have many resources to locating runaways. There is no cost but you will need to have the police report number when you call.
The first 48 hours following the runaway are the most important in locating the child. Many runaway children return home during this 48-hour period. However, some runaway cases may last months. It is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to call the investigator and validate that the child is still missing every 30 days. (NCIC policy). Be sure to call the investigator you are working with to notify them of the child's return. If your child was found and returned by any police agency, please notify the investigator assisting on your case.
Follow these steps immediately
- Check with your child's friends and parents, school, relatives, neighbors or anyone who may know your child's whereabouts. Ask them to notify you if they hear from the child.
- Report the runaway child and write down the report number. There is no waiting period to report any missing child - including the runaway.
- You can contact the National Center for Missing/Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 for assistance.
- Keep up the search for your missing child. The police can help, but they cannot do it alone. It is still your responsibility to find your runaway child.
Click here for the link to our Juvenile Section for more information.