This question came across social media to me recently and the question had me thinking about all the permutations of “the missing.” Is there a true definition? Is there an official “Journal of the Missing”, published monthly and doled out to all library shelves at University libraries? A quick internet search revealed nothing. This is a niche that few have studied in any depth with the exception of grass root non-profit organizations. They, in fact, are the experts with honed skills through “being in the trenches “and figuring out what truly is needed, how to assist the families of the missing, building collaborations with law enforcement and other organizations in order to do everything possible to effect a rescue versus a search for remains. The CUE Center for Missing Persons stands out among such organizations.
At its core, how do we know someone is missing?
On a personal level, I believe that if someone cares for another person, has a personal tie to them, and that person has not been located in several hours, to days, months, years, that is a “heart definition” of a missing person. Are there people who go missing intentionally? YES! Are there people who go missing unintentionally by virtue of circumstances beyond their control? Yes! Should we judge as to if their gone missing status was preventable? NEVER, because one mis-step or series of bad decisions and we could be there is “a New York minute!
Legal Definition (According to US Legal.com) A missing person is a person 18 years old or older whose disappearance is possibly not voluntary, or a child whose whereabouts are unknown to the child’s legal custodian, the circumstances of whose absence indicate that:
- The child did not voluntarily leave the care and control of the custodian, and the taking of the child was not authorized by law; or
- The child voluntarily left the care and control of the child’s legal custodian without the custodian’s consent and without intent to return.
- State agencies work to coordinate reports of missing persons with federal agencies, such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
- In states with an Amber Alert Plan, parents of a missing or abducted child can contact their local police or sheriff’s department to file a Missing Person Report. If a child is missing and believed to be in danger, there is no 24-hour waiting period. The law enforcement agency will immediately enter information about the missing child into the Missing Person’s database and the National Crime Information Center’s Missing Person File.
Participating law enforcement agencies can request an Amber Alert if their investigation determines that the child’s disappearance meets the Amber Alert criteria.
Types and Examples of Missing Persons:
Every missing person is somebody’s child…
- The Misunderstood Teen: “A Runaway” From the TV Series, “Last Seen Alive”
- The Homeless with Mental Illness:
- Pamela Biggers
- Missing with Dementia “Reliving the Same Memory”
- John Lloyd Scott:
- Dorothy Madden:
- Sally Estabrook:
- Human Trafficking:
- Foul Play:
- Not Wanting to be Found: “A New Life”
- Accidental Death:
- Drug and Alcohol Addiction …. Can cause people to “go missing” (Caution: these videos are not for the faint of heart- Very intense!) My former friend “went missing “right after I met her because … that’s what addicts do … (I didn’t know!)
- Missing due to Abduction and Religious Cults As a FB friend recently said, “These are families whose children have been disconnected due to an undue influence and totally excommunication from all friends and family. In short, some have no forwarding address and are not in exchange with anyone who would even be concerned should they fall off the face of the earth…”
- Gay Teens on the Run: http://www.ourtruecolors.org/About/index.html
We also have men and women missing as a consequence of prostitution, “survival on the street” essentially often hiding in plain sight, fighting their demons, trying to survive.
Another huge category of the missing is attributed to Intimate Partner Violence. We need only to go to SusanMurphy-Milano.Com to see the thousands of examples she left for us!
And on and on….
Suffice it to say, the reasons for going missing are many and varied. If we care for humanity, our hearts are big enough to hold all of the reasons. It matters not why in the final analysis. It only matters that we find them and help them back to a “new normal.”
If you know of a missing person, please file a report with the police and then contact the CUE Center for Missing persons, a national non-profit organization. To support their work: http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/donate/
Who is a Missing Person?