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Missing Children

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Who is a missing child?

In California, a missing person is someone whose whereabouts is unknown to the reporting party.

Under  California law, a missing child is a person 17 years of age or younger. (California Penal Code § 277.)

A Missing Child includes any child who may have run away, been taken involuntarily, or may be in need of assistance. It includes a child illegally taken, held or hidden by a parent or non-parent family member. (California Penal Code §§ 277-280).

How to report a missing person… 

There is NO waiting period for reporting a person missing. All California police and sheriffs' departments must accept any report, including a report by telephone, of a missing person, including runaways, without delay and will give priority to the handling of the report.

You can request investigators to enter the child into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Persons File. There is no waiting period for entry into the NCIC database.

What to do when your child is missing…

According to,

Published by the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the following link is a guide written by parents and family members who have experienced the disappearance of a child. It contains their combined advice concerning what you can expect when your child is missing, what you can do, and where you can go for help. It explains the role that various agencies and organizations play in the search for your missing child and discusses some of the important issues that you and your family should consider. Available in English and Spanish.


National Resources



FBI Headquarters
Special Investigations and Initiatives Unit
Crimes Against Children Unit
935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
Washington, DC 20535
Phone: 202–324–3666
Fax: 202–324–2731

FBI Offices in California
FBI Los Angeles
Suite 1700, FOB
11000 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 477-6565

FBI Sacramento
4500 Orange Grove Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95841
(916) 481-9110

FBI San Diego
9797 Aero Drive
San Diego, CA 92123
(858) 565-1255

FBI San Francisco
450 Golden Gate Ave., 13th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 553-7400


California Resources

Missing Child Reward Program

You may be eligible to receive an award if you provided information that led to the discovery of a child.
Go to the Government Claims Program website for details or contact the California Government Claims Board at 1-800-777-9229.

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