For the friends and families of a missing person the goal is finding that person and getting them home safe and sound. There are many tools that can be used. Social Media is likely one of the fastest ways to get the word out. In communities like Thunder Bay there are over 70,000 Facebook accounts. Likely at least 30,000 are active, so getting information on Facebook can really help.
It is important to also keep in mind that opening up the situation and search on Facebook may lead to people offering what might be what they think is help, but is simply speculation. In a search it would be a fantastic idea to have a person assigned to monitor social media who is not directly involved as a family member.
A key component of course is contacting the police. The police have resources at hand that will far and away exceed the usual resources of individuals. Once the person who is missing has been reported to police, they have a speedy means of reaching out to the media. As well authorities can be searching with other resources not available to civilians.
In Canada, the RCMP and other police services co-ordinate the missing and exploited children’s resources. One of the more well known resources for missing children is the Amber Alert.
The Amber Alert is Program is an innovative province wide program which partners the province’s law enforcement community, media broadcasting agencies and the public in locating abducted children. AMBER Alert is a comprehensive plan which provides a coordinated and rapid response to child abductions throughout your province. It provides the public with immediate and up-to-date information about a child abduction by widespread media broadcasts and solicits the public’s help in the safe and swift return of the child. There is also an Amber Alert Ontario page on Facebook.
The RCMP offer some tips for parents of missing children but they could also be adapted for any missing persons incident:
- STAY CALM. Contact neighbours, friends, spouse, siblings and anyone who may know where your child may be. Invite a friend or acquaintance with a “calm” manner to be with you.
- Conduct a telephone search. Call family, friends and relatives who may wish to help. Encourage them to use their telephones to make inquiry calls so your line will remian free for incoming calls. If you have to leave the house, have an answering machine on the line or have a friend or neighbour take incoming calls.
- Have friends and relatives conduct a basic land search of the neighbourhood area while you are making a police occurence report. With family and firends, try to recall the present and past few days of family situations and activities (a recent argument or discipinary action could be the reason for hiding).
The RCMP advise parents to Solicit media support such as radio, television, local publications and newspapers only at the advice of the police and searching agency involved with the case. If you solicit the services of a searching agency the telephone service provided will screen and evaluate calls. It is not advisable to leave or publicize your home or work number or address. Calls and mail can mislead investigations and can be very upsetting to the searching family.
What often happens in more remote areas and in some communities are that the move onto social media and out to the community happens far faster. In many cases that happens before the police can fully move into action according to some experts.
Here are some added resources:
|Missing Children Society of Canada
99 Bronte Road, Suite 814
Oakville, Ontario, Canada L6L 3B7
1-800-661-6160 Web site: http://www.mcsc.ca/
|Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service309 Court Street South
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 2Y1
|Our Missing Children
c/o National Missing Children Services
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
1200 Vanier Parkway
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0R2
Web site: http://www.ourmissingchildren.gc.ca