Person Missing: How can a Community come together to help?

by Krishanu
How can a community help find a missing person


When any person goes missing, it can leave their near and dear ones feeling helpless. But there are steps to take. This blog discusses actionable strategies to help families find their loved ones.

When someone goes missing, it can be that they:

1. Want to come back home, but is not able to come back

  • Because they are being forcibly held somewhere
  • Because they are not able to recall the way back home

2. Have willfully gone away and does not want to return

Let us consider each scenario in detail and how the family and community can approach each of the scenarios. 

First Things First

For any of these scenarios, however, the first step is always the same. 

The moment, as a family member or neighbor you conclude that you are not able to establish contact with the person and you are unaware of where he or she can be at the moment, one should go to the Police and file a report (A First Information Report – FIR as it is called in many countries).

At the same time, it is prudent to spread the word as much as possible within one’s trusted network, starting with friends and family, and neighbors regarding the missing person. 

In many cases, it is seen that the family hesitates to spread the word and spends time waiting in case the person comes back. However, in today’s connected world, it is very easy to find out in case someone is not reachable. In such a case, it is best not to waste even a moment and start the search as soon as possible. 

In this blog, we are not going to discuss the scenario where someone is forcibly taken captive and hence they go missing. In such cases, there is little the neighbors and family can do, other than follow the instructions of law enforcement officials.

For all other missing scenarios, an early search can prevent the person from getting too far from home. 

Tracking Missing Persons

People of any age can get missing. However, the risk and chance of someone going missing is more with kids and the elderly.

Kids

Kids who are less than around 10 years old, usually do not show a tendency to go missing willfully. As parents, if you are traveling to any place which has a lot of crowd and there can be a chance of your kid getting separated, then it is better to put any location tracking device on the kid. 

There are several types of location tracking devices available in the market. If your kid is old enough to wear a watch, giving them a GPS enabled smart watch can be the best solution.

There are other tracking devices available, some of which can be worn or some others which can be kept in their bags. Here are some examples of such devices:

  1. APPLE AirTag
  2. Tile Mate 
  3. Onelap GO
  4. Noise Explorer Kids Smart Watch with GPS

The Elderly

The elderly who have problems with memory, (suffering from dementia or not able to recall the way home in a new place), should always be given a card to be kept in their pockets or purse, with their name and present address written on it.

Otherwise GPS enabled devices like smartwatches can be given to them as well. In fact, smart watches can be an excellent companion to the elderly as they keep tracking the body vitals and send alarms in case of anomalies. 

Missing Teenagers

There are several known cases, where kids, specifically teenagers, who wilfully went missing. Reasons for this can be many. For example – Fear of getting reprimanded at home because of incidents at school/tution classes, was the reason behind a child who went missing recently from a residential community in Bangalore. 

In such cases, the neighbors can play an extremely important role in spreading word and also coming together to search for the child. 

Searching for a Missing person

  • Create a WhatsApp shareable image with the photo of the missing person, his/her name and share in your network of family, friends, and neighbors
  • Form a group of neighbors who can go and conduct the search
  • Visit areas around the place where the person was last seen, and check if you can find CCTV footage from shops in the neighborhood or traffic signals, showing the person’s movements. Do carry the report you have filed with the police, as with this people would not show you their CCTV footage
  • Add the volunteers who have participated in the search to a WhatsApp group and post updates in it. Have only a few members who are leading the search as Admins, and make the group Admin posts only. This makes sure that important information is reaching everyone, without distracting posts coming in the midst
  • Post the missing poster in social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and ask your connections to share the post as much as possible. Do remember, the faster the word spreads, the sooner you have a chance of getting back the person.
  • If you have any connections in mass media channels like TV channels or newspapers, try to leverage the same
  • If someone is wilfully gone missing, then try to send volunteers to train stations or inter-state or city bus depots.
  • Make sure you have visited the local hospitals in case there is any major or minor incident which could have resulted in hospitalization of the person missing

Overall for kids and elderly alike, always try to keep your home address, phone number on their person. Having GPS enabled smartwatches is also an excellent way to make sure you are able to track your near and dear ones at any time.

It goes without saying that if the person is carrying a mobile, then finding the person is very easy. Even if the person is not able to take a call, there are multiple apps available, which you can keep installed in your phones, with which you can see the location of your family.

Remember, even in difficult situations, there are multiple sources to get help from. By following these tips and working together with your community, you can increase the chances of a safe return for your loved one. Never give up hope.

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