What to do if your child is missing after school

FARGO, N.D. (KVLY) Although class has only been in session for less than a month, eight kids have already gone missing from the bus stop or getting home from school.

All eight incidents were quickly resolved with every child being returned home safely, but it's still a scary situation for parents. However, experts say most of the incidents can be prevented with better communication.

"These kids are never really lost, they're just misplaced," Mike Steffen, Transportation Director with Moorhead Public Schools said.

And that rings true for the eight recent incidents around the area, as kids either got on the wrong bus or went to the park without letting mom and dad know.

"Both the instances we had recently were both communication issues. Kids stopping off at friends houses or getting side-tracked on the way home and communication didn't get relayed as to where they were at," Sgt. Derek Cruff with West Fargo Police said.

Experts say if something like this happens to you, the first place to call is the school.

"They might have missed the bus and are still there. Or they stayed behind for an after school activity and the school can do a call to see if they're still there," Steffen said.

If your child's not at school, the next place to call is the busing company. There, Steffen says they'll ask who your child's friends are and have you check nearby parks, as well as around your neighborhood.

"Once they get off that bus, we have no idea where they're going and we're hoping to come up with ideas to help that parent out," Steffen said.

Next comes talking with police, who say it's important to know what your child was wearing that day as well as to provide a recent photo.

Police also stress the importance of establishing a strong communication between both you and your child, as well as anyone else who helps get your child from place to place.

"Most often we find that especially kids that are school-age, they stop off with a friend or somewhere after school before going home. And that's where you take the time to communicate with your child not only what your day looks like, so you know what their day looks like and that they have a clear plan after school so you know what they're going to do," Cruff said.

Police say most missing children incidents that come after school lets out are resolved within 30 minutes.