How does one know when to file a missing person's report? Who can you call to find out?
A little background before the story... we have a 15 year old son. He is mine from a previous marriage, but Tom has done everything he can think of to help make Corey feel like he belongs to us, especially since my ex-husband is nowhere to be found these days ("these days" being comprised largely of the past 13 years, with periodic spurts of knowledge as to his general whereabouts).
Since age four, Corey has exhibited some pretty intense emotional and behavioral problems. I could not begin to count the number of times that he was sent home from preschool and kindergarten. I could probably round the number of times he was suspended from kindergarten through third grade to the nearest five... maybe even ten. He and I have been through counseling on and off (mostly on) since he was nearing five. We've seen psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, a cardiac specialist, a behavioral therapist, a chiropractor and his own physician too many times to count. He spent over two years in a class for kids with emotional problems, but with the support of the teacher he had (who's now a family friend), the counselor he had access to through that program, and his own hard work, he was eventually mainstreamed completely.
Corey was such a little guy then, smaller than most of the kids a year younger than he was, and still pretty immature for his age. He'd been working one year below grade level because his behavior had eliminated the standard curriculum during third grade. Thus I had him repeat sixth grade. He fit in pretty well with the younger crowd... for a couple of weeks.
In middle school it became increasingly difficult for him to manage his behavior. Plus he grew a mustache and about five inches during sixth and seventh grade. We looked at all the options available to us and chose an independent study program. It has been a godsend. Since July of last year Corey completed eighth, ninth and part of tenth grade (in other words, he's where he should be, credit-wise). The program he's in is excellent in some ways (field trips and camping trips abound... and they're free!), and not so great in others (the curriculum is occasionally very poorly constructed, and Corey's high IQ rebels against having to deal with dumb stuff, like, "If you one million dollars, what would you do?"... I didn't leave any words out ... the most important verb... won, lost, found, stole... was missing. Corey's response was, "I'd hire someone to fix your curriculum" or something like that).
Tom and I have been married slightly less than three years. Almost immediately upon getting married and moving in together, we had problems with Corey taking stuff from our room or from our office... some stuff just to have, other things to disassemble. In all honesty, I'd had that problem for years, but it was a minor annoyance to me then... once Tom's things came into the picture, the problem became clearer to me. Then we started noticing other stuff showing up in his bedroom. Stuff that wasn't from us... a lot of it seems to be junk. He apparently gets it from fields and dumpsters in the area.
Recently we've been having a problem with him "finding" airsoft guns. Yeah. The money I'm missing and the pawn shop that's not too far from here are pretty easy explanations for those.
Another problem that we've had in the past few years is that Corey leaves in the middle of the night sometimes. He did it about six months after we were married and one of our neighbors thought he was a prowler so they called the police. Corey tried to say it was the first time, but it turned out that wasn't true. However, it went really badly for him with the police and then with us, and I really didn't think he was still going out.
Two weeks ago I learned the folly of my thoughts when we had to call the PD to find out where to go pick him up. There was a long, extremely convoluted story that he told about how the police came to be involved. I'm not going to bother to type it all out here; suffice to say that he either got lost and overreacted, completely imagined some events or made them up to try to cover his own butt. It's also possible that any of these choices are combined in some way. The not-quite-end result is that I had to go to a neighborhood about a mile from here to pick him up. Thankfully, he wasn't cited for breaking curfew, so our interaction with the police could have stopped there. However, Corey's pretty sure he's seen a car that he said was involved with him that night, so we called the police again to have them come talk with him.
One of the good things about not living in a big city is that every single time we've dealt with the police in the past month (four times and counting), the same officers have come to see us. We are now on a first name basis with one, Jim. He and another officer know my son's history reasonably well. So when we had a major blowout last week that ended when Corey ran out of the house, slamming the screen door so hard it wouldn't stay shut after that, it was sort of a relief to have Jim come to talk with us. Corey had been gone for a couple of hours at that point. We weren't sure if we should be reporting him as a missing person or not. I'd called Mom to let her know that Corey might be on his way and Tom had driven around the neighborhood and then walked through the alleys before we called the police to find out what to do next.
It turns out that parents have a good deal of leeway in determining when and if to report someone missing. If (when?!) it happens again, I have a better sense of what to do. In case you're wondering, no, the police cannot really make you wait 24 hours to file a missing person report, even though they might try it.
So, it's been loads of fun in our house, as you can see. One upside to all of this is that we've had lots to talk about during our weekly counseling sessions.