After the Search

It is tremendously difficult when a child is still missing, the ground search concludes, and the recovery center closes. At the conclusion of the public search, it becomes an ongoing challenge to keep the focus on the missing child, and to keep the missing child before the media. These are some ideas about what the family of the missing child, and their community can do, to keep searching.

BILLBOARDS

Contact local billboard companies and ask for help getting the missing child's photograph and vital information on some billboards. Use billboards that are in appropriate locations to remind the community to keep searching for the missing child.

FAX BLASTING

FAX and e-mail the flyer from time to time, to keep the missing child, the investigation, and the reward in front of the community.

TEAM H.O.P.E. - 1-866-305-4673

Team H.O.P.E. (H.O.P.E. stands for Help Offering Parents Empowerment) is a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It is a federally funded parent support network for families of missing children. Team HOPE is also a support resource. Volunteers with Team HOPE have ALL had a missing child. Families will be matched with a volunteer who truly understands what they are going through, and will listen and offer support (including resource information). Sometimes the family of a missing child just needs to talk with someone who understands. And the only people who can REALLY understand the roller coaster and emotional toll, is someone else who has walked the same road.

NON-PROFITS

There are many non-profits who work on behalf of missing children. TEAM H.O.P.E. can provide information to the family about organizations in each state across the United States of America and Canada. Not all states have a non-profit working on behalf of missing children, but they all have a Missing Person Clearing House. A fax number or mailing address is needed to provide this information.

REGISTER WITH THE MISSING PERSONS CLEARING HOUSE IN EACH STATE

There is a Missing Persons Clearing House in each state. Many of them produce monthly bulletins that highlight missing children in the state. The family or law enforcement fills out forms to register with each state.

PHONE LOG

Keep a phone log of incoming calls, recording who phoned, the date, time and brief information about the call. Unfortunately the higher profile cases may result in psychics and inmates of local prisons making collect calls to the family. Discuss this with law enforcement. There are inmates who are seeking 5 minutes of fame - even though they were incarcerated at the time of the abduction - be prepared for fraudulent confessions. Psychics may also call, but rarely give any information that is helpful.

CALLER I.D. AND CALL WAITING

Be sure to have Caller I.D. and Call Waiting to capture all calls and information, especially unusual or anonymous calls. Discuss this with law enforcement.

AWARENESS EVENTS

From time to time (anniversaries 3, 6, 9, 12 months, annually etc) - to remind the community.

Suggestions (in random order):

  • Organize student marches to distribute flyers.
  • Ask Radio Stations to play the child's favorite song or a song selected by the family, e.g. "Somewhere Out There" from "An American Tale" , ``Among the Missing'' and ``Have You Seen Me?'' - and dedicate it to the missing child.
  • Hold a rally or candlelight vigil at the child's school or a local park with music and prayers.
  • Contact area sports teams to include the flyer in their program and possibly have a public announcement made at the games.
  • Contact banks and local business to dedicate a Christmas tree / lighting / ornaments to the missing child.
  • Have classmates and / or whatever groups the missing child was involved with, do a letter writing campaign, writing to friends and families across the country telling about the missing child.
  • Organize a human chain linking communities, school to school, house to church etc - radio stations can help organize the crowd. Ask sports celebrities to participate.
  • Ribbon campaign (in the missing child's favorite color) - on car antennas - have a day dedicated to the missing child, and hand out the ribbons at e.g. city hall, or the family's church, and ask radio stations to broadcast this.
  • Vehicle Headlights On Day for the missing child - have radio stations help broadcast this.
  • Bubbles of Hope - Have a blowing bubbles day to remind the community about your missing child. (Balloons have been used, but we do not advocate this because many birds and other wildlife die as a result of balloon releases).
  • Participate in area safety events - with a booth with flyers and information about your missing child, including an enlarged photograph.
  • Speaking engagements.

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES

  • Develop a press/media kit. As time passes, journalists who have covered your case may move away. New people move to the area, who may not know anything about your case. Write out the information (e.g. circumstances surrounding the abduction) you want disclosed. Verify this information with law enforcement first. Be sure that the missing child's photo (the most recent is best - and NOT a glamor shot) and a copy of the flyer is included. A local media person may be helpful in pulling this together. Share this with the investigator handling your case.
  • "TV Talk Shows" - Be careful - there are many TV "shows" that will ask the family to participate. Many of these "shows" are simply entertainment - and of little value to the search or the investigation. If the family chooses to do any of them, be aware that they are tremendously draining, and that some will feel like re-victimization. Be careful to discuss the thrust of the appearance thoroughly with the producer who calls, and ask ahead of time what the line of questioning will be, so that the family does not find themselves ripped apart by a ruthless host, or an unaware, insensitive, or unethical host. Find out who the other guests will be, whether they are people the family is comfortable appearing with, and what the rest of the show is about. Be sure that the focus of the show will be the missing child and that their photograph and information will be prominently displayed.
  • America's Most Wanted - with the support of law enforcement, to highlight new leads or turns in the investigation.
  • Unsolved Mysteries - this is painful for the family, but a very useful media opportunity to remind a national audience of the missing child. This program will do a re-enactment of the abduction, to try to provoke new interest in and information about the case.
  • Fox News Network has just begun a monthly one hour special on Missing Children - the format is open at this point, but includes interviews. The focus is missing children.
  • May 25th - National Missing Children's Day, may provide speaking opportunities which are often covered by the local media.
  • Anniversary dates - the 6 month anniversary and annual anniversaries are a good opportunity to get the flyers out again and remind everyone about the reward. The first anniversary will be the easiest to get help with this, it gets harder as time passes.
  • Public Service Announcements - These are often aired in the wee hours of the morning - but you never know who is watching. Video a PSA (public service announcement) and ask local/national media to broadcast it.

VICTIM'S RIGHTS

Contact the National Victim Center, Tel: 703-276-2880. The National Victim Center assists victims of crime by educating them about how the criminal justice system works. They provide information about grief and the healing process, and other services that are available on a state by state basis. Ask about victim's rights concerning the media.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU

We hope that this information helps in this terrible time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, for the safe recovery of your child.

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