It is important to remember the family members are not the only ones affected by the missing child. The child’s friends are significantly affected as well.
A missing child’s best friends often react in the same way as siblings react. Friends can experience the fear of the same event happening to them and also react to the child’s parent’s inability to help the missing child. Their own parents may not understand the depth of their fear and therefore may not realize how much their child has been affected by this event.
These parents’ feelings of fear and futility at watching the family of the missing child may keep them from communicating effectively with their own child. Members of the missing child’s family are so focused on their own needs at this time that interaction with friends is not a priority. Interacting with the missing child’s friends may be another painful reminder of the situation.
If the friend’s needs are not met at the time the child is last seen, he or she may experience the same symptoms as the siblings later in life. Friends report their
lack of respect for authority and difficulty establishing trusting relationships. As adults, friends have expressed that reconnecting with the missing child’s family has a significant positive effect on them. Being recognized as significant to the missing child and discussing feelings about the event with others of the same experience provides much support, even as an adult.
A Child Is Missing:
Providing Support for Families of Missing Children
By Duane T. Bowers, LPC
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)