Saturday Ruminations: Impact of Missing Children on Mental Health

I remember as a young teenager the video to “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum was consistently on MTV.  The impact of that video as picture after picture of a missing child was posted throughout the video helped shape my childhood and who I am as an adult.  Ever since that moment, I’ve always paid attention to missing children whether it was Elizabeth Smart, Jacob Wetterling and Amber Hagerman(AMBER Alert was named after her).  On this Saturday Rumination, I want to find a cause to talk about and the impact it has on our mental health.  Based on something that’s somewhat personal, I was curious to learn about the impact of those that have missing children from their families.  First, we need to examine the root causes of why children go missing around the world.

The first, probably most common reason why children go missing is they might have ran away from home.  According to Humanium, a runaway is defined as a minor who voluntarily leaves their home, their foster families or the institutions they live. There are factors that play into a child running away from home.  One factor is the child feels unsafe in their home. There could be drugs in the house, family disputes, the children feel neglected and different types of abuse in the home.  The child might have fell into the wrong crowd and are hiding personal problems from their parents.  The child might be experimenting with alcohol, the using of and selling drugs, sex and possibly even gang activity.  Another reason why a child might go missing is due to kidnapping.

According to Webster Dictionary, kidnapping is defined as the action of abducting someone and holding them captive.  There are different types of kidnapping.  One is parental child abduction.  This is where a parent has unauthorized custody of the child without parental agreement or based on a custody agreement in divorce court.  A child might be kidnapped and raised to be sold in the black market to an adoptive parent.  More grim types of kidnapping include extortion, human trafficking and murder of the child.  Now that I’ve given you a brief synopsis on why children go missing, I’m going to discuss with you, the reader, of the things we can do to balance our mental health out when a child or a loved one ends up missing.

There is a unmatched level of despair when it comes to not knowing where your child or loved one is.  First, it throws one’s psyche out of sorts. One minute, a person might felt that overwhelming surge of hope and the next minute there is the feeling where the person will feel like they’re in the bottomless pit of despair.  The thoughts of holding your child/loved one in your arms is what drives a parent/loved one to keep searching for their child.  If you’re reading this, these feelings are normal and please know and understand that you’re not alone.  It takes strength, hope and all the courage you can muster in order to get through this ordeal.  I’m going to give you a list of ways to survive through this horrible time.

  1.  EAT AND SLEEP, FORCE YOURSELF IF YOU HAVE TO No matter what happens in your life, your body needs nourishment and energy.  Sleep provides that energy and it provides a balance to your mental health.  Your body still needs its nutrients, vitamins and food is an energy source.  You may feel too sick to eat, you may feel to worried to sleep.  You need to eat and sleep.
  2.  EXERCISE- Even if it’s for a little bit.  Lift weights, go on the treadmill, go for a walk.  Get some form of physical activity can relieve some stress.
  3.  TIME AWAY- This sounds crazy, but give yourself time away to take a break.  Take time to regroup, taking a break allows us to regroup and gather our thoughts and provide that second wind in order to continue the search.  Visit a friend, talk to your pastor/religious leader, spend time with family.
  4.  GET YOUR EMOTIONS OUT!- Keep a journal or log, exercise, or vent.  Remember it’s okay to feel pain and to feel despair/sad.  Get those emotions out, don’t keep them bottled up.
  5. CHANNEL YOUR GRIEF AND ANGER TO ACTION- Notify law enforcement of whereabouts. Talk to community members, family members and friends.  Write down all places and friends your child frequently visited and hung out with.  Doing this will allow you to release your grief and anger in a positive manner.
  6.  STAY AWAY FROM ALCOHOL, DRUGS & OTHER MEDICATIONS- If you are having trouble sleeping or coping from the stress, consult your physician, plus becoming dependent on substances will hinder your focus and your search
  7.  STAY AWAY FROM BLAME- Do not blame yourself if you did not arrange for the disappearance, sometimes abductions can occur while the parents are at home.  Others might blame you for the abduction although you had nothing to do with it, they do this because it might make them feel somewhat safer in the world.  Anger and blame are almost always irrationally misplaced.  Talk to your family, talk to all parties of the custody in the situation, put differences aside.  Also it’s okay to seek out professional help to help you deal with the situation.  Plus their opinions and their blame is theirs, it’s not yours if you did not arrange for the disappearance.
  8. STAY UNITED- Everyone deals with stress and grief differently.  Instead of lash out, hug out.  Keep judgments on how people are dealing with it to yourself.  Be a listening voice and keep your eyes on the common goal and that is for the child to return home.

I wanted to highlight someone that lives in the area I live in that’s been missing since May 20th.

The child depicted above is named Brody Reich.  He’s been missing from the Rockwell, Iowa(North Iowa) area since May 20th, 2021.  All people know is that he never came home from school on May 20th.  He’s 15 years old and is about 5 foot 8 to 5 foot 10, weighs about 175 to 200 lbs.  If you know his whereabouts, please contact the police/authorities.

  • Cover Photo Credit:  Kindel Media via WordPress Pexels
  • Brody Reich Photo Credit:  Lifetouch Inc.

Author: madnesstocreation

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