Social Guardian Group’s team of online private investigators have investigated many cases involving missing children. Of all the different types of investigation cases we have conducted over the year, none can quite compare to those that have a missing child involved. Over the many years of our service, Social Guardian Group has provided concerned parents with vigilant private investigation services that helped to protect their children from the dangers of adolescence naivete.

 

A Parents Worst Nightmare: Your Child is Missing

Any parent of a tween or teen knows that every day is full of trials and tribulations. Almost every child at some point in time threatens to run away from home and may even go as far as packing a bag. But what would you do if your child actually followed through with their threat? What would your plan of action be? Who would you call or reach out to? Studies have shown that one in seven young people between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away from home. Online private investigators can help find missing children even outside of the United States.

What would you do if your child ran away and didn’t return within a few hours and the day becomes the dark of night? This exact situation was brought to our firm not too long ago. A father of a 15-year-old female (who we will call Sarah*) became concerned when his daughter followed through with her threat to run away. Sarah was your typical adolescent acting out whenever the world wasn’t going her way, or so her father assumed. Several hours after Sarah ran away and as day 1 turned into day 2, her father reached out for help in locating his daughter. By the use of social media, we were able to uncover not only Sarah’s location but much more about her life that raised great concern.

 

Hire A Private Investigator: The Key to Recovering Your Child

Many parents are part of the social media world and know their way around Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc. Parents also tend to think they know what their children are doing on social media by either requiring their children to be their social friend or having random check-ins on their children’s profiles. The problem with both of these approaches is the fact that the children are aware that their parents are looking into their profiles or that they might be checking in on their accounts. Knowing that this is a possibility, it should not come as a surprise that children tend to have secondary accounts under different names where they live a totally different social media life.

Sarah’s father required she be social friends with him on Facebook in order to have an account of her own. The day the two got into a fight and Sarah stormed out of the house, her father thought nothing of these antics and continued on with his day. When Sarah did not return that night her father logged into Facebook and did not notice any updates on her social page. As the following day went on and there was no word from Sarah, her father reached out to me in an effort to locate his daughter and confirm she was safe.

 

The First Step of Investigation: Building The Child’s Social Footprint

Our first instinct when attempting to locate a child who wishes to be invisible by their parents on social media was to ask her father to check the history on their home computer. If a child is unaware of this feature you may be successful in locating the URL they use for a secondary Facebook (or any social media profile). Sarah; however, was in the habit of never logging in on her home computer but using her cell phone instead, which she took with her and had powered off. The next step would be to access your child’s original social media profile (no need to log into their account if you do not have that access) and if you have the ability to see their friends, look through to see if they are social friends with their other profiles.

A tip here would be to search for a profile picture that looks like your child since they often make up fake or nonsensical names on their secondary profiles. If you are still not having any luck, my next step would go to their closest friends’ profiles and again go through their social friends looking for your child’s image next to a different name.

What worked in Sarah’s case was searching her boyfriend’s profile where we found an image of Sarah and a link to her alternate profile (side note: the ability to look through a profile depends on privacy settings. Sarah’s boyfriend’s page was public and we were able to view his posts). After locating Sarah’s alternate profile (again which was public) we were able to read through her posts and see she checked-in (a Facebook feature) at her boyfriend’s college located two states away, just a few hours prior to us identifying this page. I was able to inform Sarah’s father of her most recent whereabouts and he proceeded to drive out to the college to locate his daughter.

 

Identifying Behavior to Understand The Child’s Actions

During the course of my investigation into Sarah’s whereabouts, her father was intrigued by her fake account and asked if I could continue to look into her secretive social media life. This is where it got a bit concerning regarding Sarah’s lifestyle and the image she was portraying online. After locating several usernames Sarah was utilizing, we discovered numerous websites she was using and posting provocative and sexual content.

Sarah was on Ask.fm, an anonymous question and answer website, where she was telling the world of her supposed sexual actions and drug/alcohol use. Whether this information was true or not, the fact Sarah was posting this information was alarming. Providing Sarah’s father with this information was the first step in opening up the door to conversation with Sarah.

Children often do not realize the impact of their social footprint and the ability to access the information years later after they forgot they even posted this material. Not to mention the danger Sarah has put herself in by posting this information, leaving her vulnerable to bullying and child predators just to name a few.

It is important to know your child’s social media presence and if we have learned anything from Sarah’s story, it is the significance of open communication with your children but also knowing they may hide things from you. We all kept secrets from parents at some point in time; however, with the ability to share information with just about anyone through the click of a button the youth of today are unaware of the damage they can do to themselves and their reputation.

We must educate our children and save them from the unnecessary harms of the social world.