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What to do if your child is missing

Earlier this month, a woman who was kidnapped as a girl 18 years ago was found. Investigators have discovered that her captors kept her in a backyard compound shielded from neighbors. She gave birth twice during her captivity, bearing her first child at age 14.

Other kidnapping stories have even worse outcomes. Victims are often found buried in shallow graves in forests or on roadsides, their captors still free to commit more crimes.

More than 800,000 children go missing each year, which is one every 40 seconds. Some 450,000 children run away each year. About 300,000 children are abducted by family members annually, and 50,000 are abducted by non-family members.

Demopolis police chief Tommie Reese talked about what children and parents can do to help prevent this from happening in our area.

“If there has been a period of time when the child is not home or in a safe environment, parents should call the police department,” he said. “When you call the police department, have us do a welfare check. We don’t mind doing a welfare check on any child, period.”

Reese said that the child often goes to a family member’s house or a friend’s house without telling the parents where he is.

“We’ve had some instances in the last month where we had three or four missing children called,” he said. “One was in the house in the bed under the covers at the foot of the bed, and the mother didn’t know the child was there. We had another child who was under the bed asleep, and the parent just didn’t check that location in the house.”

Once the police are called, they will get information about the child: where he was last seen and where he planned to go.

“If it is a minor child or a teenage child, we will have the cars looking in certain locations for that child,” Reese said. “If an extended period of time has transpired, and we know that the child could be in danger, we will put out a ‘be on the lookout’ report on the child.”

Parents can have permanent records made of their children through an ID kit provided by the Demopolis Police Department or the Marengo County Sheriff’s Department in Linden.