Running away is not a crime. Because they are juveniles, the child will be entered into a national database (NCIC). If an officer anywhere in the country runs a check on the child, a 'hit' will come up advising the officer of the runaway status. The officer will then verify the child's identity and the child's parents will be contacted to take custody of their child. Refusing to do so may result in the parent / guardian being charged with child neglect.
The primary responsibility of the Phoenix Police Department's Missing Persons Unit is for missing persons who are truly missing. Yes, there is a difference between a missing person and a runaway. A missing person case has an unexplained disappearance; whereas the runaway has a motive to disappear and does not want to be found. The Missing Persons Unit has resources not available to the general public and can tap into many databases to assist the parents. The Phoenix Police Department Missing Persons Investigators are very willing to assist you in finding your child. However, the primary responsibility for locating a runaway falls on the parent or guardian of the child.
Finding and recovering a runaway child depends greatly on the active and aggressive participation of the parent / guardian. Searching for your child may seem overwhelming and a parent will feel completely lost as how to search or where to start.
Tips to help you start finding your runaway.
Parents or guardians are urged to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678. NCMEC is a non-profit organization that will help parents in locating runaways and missing children. They can assist parents in creating flyers and have many resources to locating runaways. There is no cost but you will need to have the police report number when you call.
Some runaway cases may last months. It is the responsibility of the parent / guardian to call the investigator and validate that the child is still missing every 30 days. (NCIC policy). If contact is lost with the parent / guardian for any significant time, the case may be cleared and dropped. Be sure to call the investigator you are working with to notify them of the child's return. If your child was found and returned by any police agency, please notify the investigator assisting on your case.