When young people return from missing

October 22, 2019

Increased risk of harm

We know that when a young person goes missing they are at increased risk of experiencing harm. In fact one in ten children who go missing experience some form of harm while they are away. This risk is compounded by the fact that it can be hard for these children to talk about what happened while they were missing, and often when they come back all they want is a meal and a good night’s sleep. They don’t always have the capacity to talk about what went on while they were gone, but for us as the professionals and adults in their lives it is important that we find out from them what they have experienced.

The struggle to verbalise

For many years services we have worked with have requested a digitised version of a ‘return from missing’ form. We know that when given digital tools, children and young people disclose up to three times more quickly than when they are face-to-face. Partly this is because they prefer to communicate digitally, but also they sometimes struggle to verbalise difficult things, preferring instead to write them down in private.

Powerful statement

Return from missing, a recent addition to One app, asks simple, incisive questions that invite the young person to share what they did while they were missing, who they were with, and what would stop them going missing again. This information can then be used to safeguard them and help prevent them from going missing again. It can sometimes also be used to safeguard other young people who were present. This was illuminated for us recently in this powerful statement from a residential home we work with:

We have used Return from missing several times to discuss with a young person what happened whilst she was missing, and on one occasion she gave us details about who she had been with and the risks that she had experienced, including the drugs that were taken.

She also alerted us to a much younger child who was present. She knew that it wasn’t really suitable for her to be present among drug-taking and other things that were taking place, and it most certainly wasn’t suitable for a three year old. Using her statement and cross referencing that with information from social workers and the police, we were able to identify where the young person had been and take action to safeguard the younger child.

Book a demo

For more information and to book a demo of Return from missing, please contact hello@mindofmyown.org.uk