While the child is away
Report the incident to the authorities
According to the Civil Code of Quebec, you are legally responsible for the custody, supervision and education of your child. Consequently, you have an obligation to contact the police if they run away. Before calling them, do a few quick checks so that you can give them useful information. You can gather certain details by contacting your child’s friends and school, as well as searching their room.
Who does your child spend time with?
Where do they hang out? Where do they go most often?
Where was your child last seen?
Did they take anything unusual with them (e.g., multiple items of clothing or money they saved)?
Answering these questions may offer clues. If you suspect a child has run away or is missing, call 9-1-1.
If your child is living at a home under the Youth Protection Act, talk to the child’s caregivers.
If you need assistance with these steps, contact a neutral person. They can provide the support you need.
Co-operate in the search effort
After you call 9-1-1, a police officer will visit your home. The officer needs some key information to help you find your child. If you prefer the authorities not come to your home, you can go to the police station. Together you will look for clues to locate your child.
Check your child’s telephone and social media use.
Provide a description and photo of your child.
If your child is living at a home under the Youth Protection Act, contact the youth workers there. Together, you can work with the police in the search.
The police will give you an event report with a reference number. Be sure to keep this number. You will be asked for it each time you contact the investigator in charge of the file. A notice will be sent to police departments throughout Quebec.
You may have some doubts. Maybe you are afraid that taking these steps will have consequences for you or your child. Reporting your child as a runaway is essential and mandatory. This is your responsibility as a parent. It is also a way of letting your child know you disagree with their choice. Running away can be a risk to their safety or development. In addition, this process will help you get access to services and contribute to finding a solution to the difficult situation you are facing.
Keep supporting the search effort
The police are now working to find your child. Your involvement can assist in the investigation. Here is what you can do to help:
Search your home for additional clues (missing objects, personal notes).
Use the location feature on your child’s mobile phone to find out where they are.
Call your child’s friends and their parents. Also call family members or other people who are important in your child’s life.
Why take these steps?
To locate your child.
To ask for an update, if possible.
To leave a message for your child in order to reassure them, show you are concerned and help them think about their situation. For example: “Hi, I’d like to know if you’re okay. Are you safe? Answer when you’re ready. We just want you to be okay."
Is your child living in a home under the Youth Protection Act? Keep in touch with their youth workers to assist in the search. For additional support, you can contact the Missing Children’s Network or the organization En Marge 12-17.
Avoid posting a missing person notice on social networks on your own. Instead, ask for help from the police or the e Missing Children’s Network. They are well trained to support you in this process. By doing so, you will avoid getting false information or being harassed by people with malicious intent.
Take care of yourself and your family
When your child runs away from home, it is difficult for you and the entire family. Be aware of what the situation is doing to you. Are you feeling worried, angry, guilty or sad? Talk about your feelings with someone you trust. You can also write about your emotions or express yourself through art, for example. Never forget that you play a major role in your child’s life. If needed, feel free to seek the support available to you.
You should also take care of your physical health. Eating well, sleeping well and taking time to relax are all important. This will give you the energy to remain calm and care for your family day after day. When your child returns home, they will need your full support and a welcoming environment. If you have looked after yourself and your family, you will be better placed to address their needs when they come back.
Support your child and prepare to welcome them home
Before your child returns, prepare yourself. You must be ready to welcome your child back when they ask to come home. Here are some questions to consider while preparing for their return:
Why did they leave?
What are the possible solutions?
What are my limits?
In any case, be prepared to discuss these questions with your child, who will have their own solutions to offer, as well as their own limits. It is important to listen, to be sympathetic and open-minded. This is how you gain your child’s trust. In this way, they may let you support and guide them through their difficulties.
To understand your child’s reality and what they are going through, check out the Youth tab. Even if they talk in a positive way about running away, they are likely experiencing a number of problems that made them want to come back to you.
Podcast - Retrouve-moi où je m’égare
To hear young people, parents, and practitioners talk about the act of running away, listen to Retrouve-moi où je m'égare (in French only).
Episode 2 (only in French)