What to Do If Someone You Know Goes Missing

Be it family, a close friend or a classmate, if someone you know has went missing, there are things you can do to help, not just them, but surrounding members of the family, friends and yourself.

The Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN) is a network of countries that aim to improve the effectiveness of missing children investigations.

Each year, its members pay respect to International Missing Children’s Day, on the 25th of May, which honours missing and abducted children, while celebrating those who have been recovered.

If someone you love has gone missing…


  • Be kind to yourself, nothing will be gained by beating yourself up about it.
  • When you have sufficient reason to believe your loved one is missing, keep a record of anyone you speak to as you may need to phone them later to call-off the search and thank them.
  • Contact friends or family and ask if they have any knowledge of the missing person's whereabouts. Ask them to phone around and widen the search, don't take on everything yourself.
  • Have someone stay by the phone. Try to keep the house phone free for the missing person to contact you. Use your mobile phone or another line to receive other calls.
  • Make sure after an initial check that someone has contacted police. Do this as early as possible especially if the missing person is vulnerable, i.e. under 18, over 65, suffering from physical or mental illness, the person is on life-saving medication and has not taken it with them or they are depressed.
  • Reflect on the last time you were with them and think about anything they may have said or did that may help now. Plus, make a note of clothes missing person was wearing when last seen, any belongings they took (passport, bank cards, suitcase, cash etc).
  • Check with local places they are known to frequent, as well as shops, police stations, hospitals and train or bus stations.
  • Collect recent photos of the missing person (useful for any appeals police or others may undertake). Any photo is better than none, but the more up-to-date, the better.


  • Delay in searching. Time can be of the essence.
  • Keep their disappearance a secret, the more you tell, the more people you have looking on your behalf and speedier the results might be.
  • Tidy up their bedroom until the police have seen it, mess or not.
  • Wait - if missing person is vulnerable, notify the police as soon as you think something is wrong.
  • Put your own telephone numbers or address on posters or advertisements, to avoid hoaxes - use the police or missing person(s) numbers.
  • Give up. Keep appealing and searching. Remember, people want to help. Try and keep the name and photo in the public eye.

If you have information about someone else…

If you know of someone who has ran away and you know of their whereabouts or any information leading to them being found – even if you don’t think it’s that important – it could be very useful for those searching.

Remember, even if you’ve been asked to keep quiet, if that person is in danger, it’s important to get help and tell someone what you know.

Missing Kids has plenty of information around what to do if you see someone who may be missing and how to report it.

If you’re thinking of running away…

There is help available to support you. You can find out more about what to do if you’re thinking of running away and the different reasons you may have for doing so in our Information pages.

Getting Help

If you're under 18, if your parents have thrown you out, or you've run away because you've been abused or neglected, your local council or local social work department can help you.