What to do if the next missing teenager is yours

Monday, July 16, 2012

A missing teenager is not unusual, but more than a year after another missing teenage girl story turned out tragically different, it's not surprising the amount of attention Friday's case received in Southwest Nebraska.

It was heartening to see the amount of concern that area residents had for a local family, and interesting to once again see the role the social media played in raising awareness and updating residents on the situation.

We're thankful the missing girl was found safe only a day later, and returned to her parents.

If you find yourself in such a situation, Missing Children International and other organizations offer the following tips for parents:

* Remain calm, keep a positive attitude and allow professional law enforcement to help you.

* Notify your local police department or sheriff immediately, give them as much information as possible and ask them to fill out a normal police report. Listen and follow their instructions.

* Spread the word to as many people as you know that your child or teen is missing. Enlist the help of Facebook, Twitter, church or social organizations.

* Contact the Gazette, TV and radio stations

* Lock down your child's computer so no evidence will be lost to investigators.

* Gather up important paperwork that may provide more hints and clues, such phone bills, e-mail activity, cell phone records, credit card activity, bus or airline tickets, bank statements and employment records, if applicable. Organize them and keep them in a safe place.

* Enable caller ID on your phone and make sure your answering machine is working properly.

* Take care of yourself, spouse and other children. You'll be more able to make wise decisions and take important actions if you are calm and rested.

In Nebraska, the Nebraska State Patrol serves as a central repository for information on missing persons, including missing children.

On May 25, 2005, National Missing Children's Day, the Nebraska Unicameral passed LB111- Jason's Law, establishing the Nebraska Missing Persons Clearinghouse.

Jason's Law was created by the family of Jason Jolkowski, of Omaha. Jason was 19-years old when he disappeared from in front of his Omaha home on June 13, 2001. Jason remains one of the missing. His picture and information appear on the Missing Persons Clearinghouse.

The Nebraska Missing Persons Information Clearinghouse can be reached toll free at 877-441-LOST (1-877-441-5678).

More information and a link to search are available at http://statepatrol.nebraska.gov/MissPerClearing.aspx

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