My child is missing: what can I do?

My child is missing: what can I do?

Your child cannot be found and hasn’t been in touch? There is no set waiting period before taking action. In the event of a disappearance, every minute counts. Find out the first steps you need to take urgently.

Priority actions

Priority actions

  • Check that he/she is not staying with friends/parents.
  • Try to reach him/her by all available means.
  • Contact his/her friends, his/her school teacher or family to find out who has seen him/her, where and when.
  • Write down the information I receive and who gives it to me.
  • Contact the police by calling 117 or going to the nearest police station.
  • Call the 116 000 hotline for support and guidance.

Why contact the police?

Why contact the police?

  • As soon as it is registered, the missing persons report is forwarded to all Swiss cantonal police forces through the Confederation's computerised search system.
  • The police conduct a risk analysis to determine if your child is in imminent danger. Share all the information you have; every detail counts.
  • We recommend that you report your child missing so that he or she can be found as soon as possible. In the event of a disappearance, the first few hours and days are decisive.

Missing persons reports

Missing persons reports

  • In the case of a minor, there is no set waiting time for reporting a disappearance.
  • A police officer has a duty to take your statement. You must have your identity papers with you.
  • Prepare one or two recent photos of your child.
  • Bring the summary of his/her schedule and address book if you have them.
  • Ask the agent who receives you to identify himself/herself.
  • Ask the police officer who will be in charge of the case to call you back.
  • Contact us on 116 000 for immediate assistance.

In a second step

If you look for your child, he/she will know about it and that’s important for the future.

  • Continue the search by contacting the parents of friends and the extended family.
  • Go to the places your child likes to go without putting your own safety at risk.
  • Re-inspect your home and its surroundings.
  • Please contact us on 116 000 so that we can assist you in your research. You don't have to face this ordeal alone.
  • Take care of yourself. When you suffer a shock, many physical and psychological consequences can occur (sleep disorders, loss of appetite, isolation, etc.).
  • Call on your family, your doctor and/or us. Missing Children Switzerland is there to talk, listen and advise you on the steps to take, 24/7 all year round.
  • During this ordeal, it is important to remain polite and courteous.

What do the Police do?

What do the Police do?

The police automatically record the missing person's report in the Confederation's computerised system, which is inaccessible to the public. They then perform an initial risk analysis concerning the safety, physical and psychological integrity of the child.

If the police officer in charge of your case decides not to issue a public missing person’s report, it may be because he or she believes that your child is not in great danger or that such publication could compromise the ongoing research.

In the event of a suspected departure abroad, the child must also be registered in the Schengen Information System (SIS). This international database can be accessed by the police of Schengen signatory states, customs and airport officers. If you are convinced that your child has gone abroad, make sure that the police have also entered him/her on the SIS.

Triggering the "Swiss Abduction Alert"

This would make it possible to report child abduction to the general population, but also to coordinate field research to be carried out by police at the national level. To our knowledge, it has never been triggered in Switzerland. The police therefore rely on inter-cantonal collaboration to deal with cases of missing children.