Is Your Child Missing?

Parental Abduction

Parental abduction is the most common form of abduction in Canada and is a crime regardless of whether there is a custody order in place or not. It is a terrifying experience for the left-behind parent and can be traumatic for the child as well. In the event of a parental abduction, it is very important to act quickly and to immediately contact the police, as well as a lawyer.



How to prevent a parental abduction

To ensure the safety of your child, especially in situations where there is family conflict, it is important to maintain a good relation not only with your child but also as much as possible, with the other parent. Maintaining a cordial relationship with the other parent will allow you to better assess the possibility of a parental abduction, thus allowing you to take the necessary steps towards reducing the risk.

Whether making changes in a custody order or by teaching your child safety rules, there are many preventative measures you can take.

Relationship with the other parent

  • For the well-being of your child, try to maintain cordial and harmonious relations with the other parent and attempt to create a climate of trust and respect;
  • Seek counseling and custody mediation to maintain a harmonious relationship with the other parent:
  • Respect the other parent’s visitation rights;
  • Advise the other parent of any new changes in your life (change of residence, new job, travel plans, etc.);
  • Attempt to maintain a cordial relationship with your in-laws and friends you have in common.

Relationship with your child

  • Impress upon your child that you love him and that you would under no circumstances ever want him to leave you;
  • Establish a positive and open dialogue with your child concerning the family situation;
  • Reassure your child of his innocence concerning the family turmoil;
  • Teach your child the difference between good secrets (a surprise party) and bad secrets (things that make him feel uncomfortable or that might hurt someone). Help him understand that he must share any bad secrets with a trustworthy adult;
  • Ensure that your child knows his complete name, address (including postal code) and telephone number (including the area code);
  • Teach your child to make long-distance calls; let him know that you will always accept collect calls from wherever they originate;
  • Attempt to know the other parent’s plans (the possibility of an upcoming trip, especially if your child makes you aware of this situation);
  • Make sure to add the following items to your child’s personal effects when he is leaving for a visit with the other parent:
  • An up-to-date identification card;
  • Emergency telephone numbers in order for your child to reach you at all times;
  • Pocket money in order to make a call from a payphone – in certain areas, a local call reversing the charges may be made.
  • Teach your child how and when to call 911;
  • Discuss with your child what he did with the other parent following his return from visits, (i.e. their activities, outings, etc.). It is important to show interest without prying.

What might prompt a parent to abduct his child

  • The need to punish their spouse for ending the relationship;
  • Refusal to accept a separation or a request for divorce;
  • The belief that the clauses of the custody order and visitation rights are unjust and/or too flexible;
  • Difficulty adapting to the customs of a different country;
  • The desire to pursue the role of sole parent;
  • Cultural differences within the couple (i.e. religion, education, language);
  • Pressure from the family of origin;
  • Rational or irrational belief that the other parent is a danger to the child.

Signs of a possible parental abduction

A parental abduction is rarely a spontaneous and impulsive gesture by the parent, but rather a well-thought out plan that may include the following:

  • Previous attempt to abduct;
  • Threat to abduct;
  • Aggressive or controlling behaviour;
  • Recurrent and suspicious comments from the child;
  • Resigning from one’s job;
  • Selling of property;
  • Liquidation of assets;
  • Closing of bank accounts;
  • Applying for a passport;
  • Child’s official documents are missing.

When is a parental abduction most likely to occur?

  • During the exercise of visitation rights;
  • A trip outside of the country with the child;
  • Before/after a divorce or separation, especially once legal custody has been granted.
Contact the Missing Children’s Network at 514.843.4333 or toll-free 1 888 692.4673 for assistance.

Every year on average, there are over 5,000 cases of missing children reported to law enforcement in Quebec. Runaways account for nearly 85% of all these cases and involve youth between the ages of 12-17. The reasons why youth run away are complex, but are generally associated with them attempting to gain some control over their lives. While most runaways return home within a few days, a smaller number of youth may spend periods of time on the street, in shelters or other unfamiliar environments. Youth become vulnerable as soon as they leave home – potentially falling victim to substance abuse, theft, crime, homelessness and exploitation.


Young people may spontaneously decide to run away after experiencing an incident, a failure, a conflict or an intense emotion, such as fear of facing the consequences of their actions, anger or grief. In these circumstances, running away seems to be the only possible solution; it may even feel like an escape allowing them to avoid facing their problems.

Most of the time, children who run away have usually planned to do so in advance and are well prepared. Therefore, it is important to recognize the warning signs of a child planning to run away. A teen may show several warning signs without necessarily planning to run away. It is important to always listen to what your child has to say.

Possible warning signs that your child is thinking of running away

  • Accumulating money and personal possessions (money and clothing hidden in his room);
  • Talking about running away (some try to anticipate their parents’ reaction on this subject);
  • Problems at school (academic or disciplinary problems);
  • Family problems;
  • Alcohol or substance abuse;
  • A sudden change of friends or companions;
  • Isolation;
  • Extreme change of habits (sleeping or eating);
  • Anger outbursts (unusual or repeated anger);
  • Breaking family rules;

Following are several suggestions that may help prevent your child from running away

  • Establish healthy communication with your child. Remain open and honest;
  • Change your work schedule, if possible, to be home when he returns from school;
  • Invite your child’s new friends to the house to get to know his social network;
  • If suspicious, ask your child whether he has intentions of running away;
  • Talk to him about the dangers of running away from home;
  • Always tell your child that you love him and that he is important to you.

It is important to identify your child’s needs. The better a parent understands his child’s needs, the better he can help him meet those needs and help prevent him from running away or engaging in risk taking behaviour.

If you have difficulties communicating with your child, we strongly recommend that you seek help from appropriate resources rather than letting the situation deteriorate.

You can contact our office at 514 843-4333 and our case managers can provide you with pre crisis counseling.

What should you do if your child runs away?

Contact the police as quickly as possible. Contrary to what you might have heard or seen on TV, there is no law stating that you have to wait 24 hours before informing the police that your child is missing. It is important that you have aIl the necessary information regarding your child and be ready to give it to the police, including an updated photo. This will facilitate their job and accelerate the search for your missing child. You can fill out a registration form for your child.

The act of reporting a runaway to the police doesn’t necessarily mean that your child`s situation will be overseen by Youth Protection. They will only become involved when a child is in a situation that compromises his safety or development.

What can you do before calling the police?

  • Check all rooms in the house as well as the exterior of the house;
  • Press the “ redial ” button on your phone to see if you can identify a last call your child may have made before he left the house;
  • Check your voice mail and/or phone display screen to identify recent incoming calls;
  • Check your child’s e-mail and social network accounts (if any);
  • Communicate with his friends, extended family and a representative at his school;
  • Scan their room to see if they took any of their belongings (Opus card, phone, computer, money, clothes, passport, credit cards);
  • Check garbage cans for any indicators.

What should you do after calling the police?

  • Contact the Missing Children’s Network at 514 843-4333 / 1 888 692-4673 and seek help from one of our case managers.
  • If your child calls, note the telephone number displayed on the screen so that the call can possibly be traced.
  • It is important to be candid and direct with the police concerning the circumstances that might have led to your child running away.

How to respond to a phone call from your child while he is on the run.

When receiving the much awaited phone call from your child, would you know how to react or what to say? The majority of parents are so relieved to hear from their child, but don’t feel prepared for that initial conversation. Following are some questions to help keep the conversation flowing:

  • Are you safe?
  • Are you able to talk?
  • Do you want to talk?
  • Is there anyone else you’d like to talk to?
  • Are you sleeping well?
  • Are you eating well?
  • Do you have a safe place to stay?
  • Is there anything I can do for you?
  • Do you want me to come pick you up?
  • Can we talk again?
  • Can we make a date to talk again?
  • Operation Vigilance 12-17 years-old)
  • How to Prevent Your Child From Running Away
  • Coming Back to StayResources :
  • Together for Safety (12-17 yo) (This document will soon be available)
  • Teen Runaways: Signs, Prevention and What to Do if They Run
  • STAY : safety, trust, awareness and you

Should I Use the Media?

Whether or not to use the media is a very personal decision. It is certainly the quickest and most effective way of reaching a large and diverse audience to ask for help, information and possible sightings. Nonetheless, the experience of having to deal with journalists, answer questions, disclose personal information about both your missing child and yourself, as well as being thrown into the media spotlight, may not be one you feel you can handle.

The Missing Children’s Network can support you in ensuring the local search is effective and coordinated, with or without the support of mainstream media.

Guide Book to Working With the Media (This document will soon be available)


In Case Your Child Disappears

As a parent, there is nothing worse than the disappearance of your child. Silence envelops the house and fills your heart while you pray for your child’s safe return. If your child goes missing, time is of the essence.

It is essential to establish, as quickly as possible, what possibly could have happened. Did the child get lost? Was he in an accident? Abducted? Ran away?

The younger the child is, the more vulnerable he is. It is essential to conduct a series of measures as quickly as possible.

  • Try to remain calm. You will be better able to help your child with a clear mind.
  • Enlist the help of a relative or a friend.
  • If your child goes missing from your home, begin by conducting a thorough search of your entire house and property, including small hiding places and other areas such as attics, basements, cupboards, tool sheds, old refrigerators, heating ducts, piles of laundry and underneath beds.
  • Check to ensure that your child isn’t at someone’s house such as a neighbours, friend’, family or acquaintance.
  • Verify if any personal effects or clothes are missing. This could indicate a runaway situation.
  • Look for any clues or messages that could have been left behind.
  • If you can’t immediately find your child, contact your local police. Please note that there is no minimum waiting period (such as 24-hours) before reporting a disappearance.

With the help of your local police, you can establish a ground search team made up of friends and family to check some of the following locations

  • Areas where children play in the neighbourhood;
  • The route that your child normally takes to go to and from school, the community centre, friends’ houses, or favourite places;
  • Cars and trucks that look abandoned around the area;
  • Along the banks of streams or canals, etc.

Keep in mind that young children don’t usually wander as far as older children can.

  • Look around the ground for any objects, clothes, books or other items that could have been left behind. If you find certain clues that you think are suspicious, don’t touch them and immediately contact the police.
  • If your child goes missing in a store or a shopping centre, immediately inform the Manager or the Security Department. If necessary, the police will then be contacted.
  • Look around the ground for any objects, clothes, books or other items that could have been left behind. If you find certain clues that you think are suspicious, don’t touch them and immediately contact the police.
  • If your child goes missing in a store or a shopping center, immediately inform the Manager or the Security Department. If necessary, the police will then be contacted.

As time is of utmost importance when a child goes missing, be prepared to provide a description of your child

  • An up-to-date child identification booklet that includes a current photo of your child – this booklet will become an essential tool for the Police;
  • A description of your child’s most recent comings and goings;
  • Possible or probable destinations;
  • What he was wearing the last time you saw him, including jewelry, and accessories such as a backpack, lunchbox, school bag, etc.;
  • His known acquaintances;
  • His interests and hobbies;
  • Any recent changes in behaviour, friends or interests;
  • The current family situation (recent divorce, an older brother or sister that has moved out, a new baby, etc.);
  • Any particular problems or situations that could have influenced your child.
  • Provide investigators with a recent photograph of your child
  • A description of your child’s most recent comings and goings;
  • Possible or probable destinations;
  • What he was wearing the last time you saw him, including jewelry, and accessories such as a backpack, lunchbox, school bag, etc.;
  • His known acquaintances;
  • His interests and hobbies;
  • Any recent changes in behaviour, friends or interests;
  • The current family situation (recent divorce, an older brother or sister that has moved out, a new baby, etc.);
  • Any particular problems or situations that could have influenced your child.

Make sure that someone is always available to answer the phone in the event that your child calls home.

Contact The Missing Children’s Network at 514.843.4333 or toll-free at 1.888.692.4673 in order to register your missing child and obtain emotional support and guidance in the search for your child.

To register your missing child, please complete the online registration form or send an email to to ask about the registration form.

At the request of the Service de Police de la ville de Laval, the Missing Children’s Network is requesting your collaboration in the search for Jennifer Allard-Gould, 16 years old from Laval last seen June 2nd, 2020.

Information leads us to believe that Jennifer may be in the Montreal area.
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Hot Off the Press! A New Resource Booklet for Parents of Pre-Teens!

Preadolescence is a crucial stage in the life of a child. From childhood to adolescence, children will go through many changes. As a parent, you want to support your child through these changes, guide them in their choices and ensure their safety.

SHINE Brighter: For You and Your Child is designed to help parents and their children navigate through this new stage! It will help parents gain a better understanding of this new phase of life and provide useful advice and activities that they can do with their pre-teen.
Happy reading!
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With our workshops suspended for the remainder of the school year, the Missing Children’s Network is pleased to offer a variety of activities for pre-teens, inspired by our SHINE program. It is important that we continue to raise awareness and prevent the abuse and sexual exploitation of our youth. These activities can be conducted either in a classroom setting or at home with your family. Feel free to add your personal touch!

Today’s post is all about self-esteem: a key element in the construction of identity for youth, allowing them to resist to peer pressure and bad influences. We propose the following two activities: The Hope Box and I am a Star!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. It will be our pleasure to assist you.
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Thanks to TCEnergy’s generous and continued support, we can continue to educate and empower youth with the tools and knowledge necessary to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations.Grâce au soutien généreux et continu dTCEnergy, nous pouvons poursuivre notre mission d’éduquer et d’habiliter les jeunes avec les compétences et connaissances nécessaires pour reconnaître et se protéger contre des situations potentiellement dangereuses. ... See MoreSee Less

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The present pandemic has taught us all about the importance of social distancing and the 2 meter rule. When speaking with your children about social distancing, we suggest you also help them understand that they do not have to engage in conversations with adults that approach them. Adults should ask adults for help – NOT children! A fun way to reinforce this concept is to instruct them to keep at least three giant steps between themselves and someone they don’t know or who makes them feel uncomfortable.La pandémie actuelle nous a appris combien il est important de respecter la distanciation sociale et la règle de deux mètres. Lorsqu’on parle de distanciation sociale avec les enfants, nous vous encourageons également à leur faire comprendre qu’ils ne sont pas obligés de parler avec des adultes qui les approchent. Un adulte devrait toujours demander de l’aide à un autre adulte; pas à un enfant! Une manière amusante d’intégrer cette notion est de leur apprendre à garder trois pas de géant entre eux et une personne qu’ils ne connaissent pas ou qui les rend inconfortables. ... See MoreSee Less

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