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Child 12-14 ADHD / Depression

Missing Child Aged 12-14 years with ADHD and depression


Statistics taken directly from Grampian Stats report 2007.


Summary of likely places found/time to found and distance from being last seen. Followed by characteristics and further information.


Likely places children will be found. Cumulative percentage of cases


·       25% Returned to their place of residence

·       24% Went to friend’s address

·       19% Traced walking in public street/park

·       12% Went to relative’s address

·       11% Traced at shops or community/leisure centre

·       2%    Went to Police Office

·       2%    Traced at Railway/bus station

·       1%    Traced at place of entertainment


Distance between places missing and found.  Cumulative percentage of cases


·       30% 1 km

·       50% 3 kms

·       70% 8 kms

·       80% 18 kms

·       90% 43 kms

·       99% 273 kms


Time takes to locate missing children. Cumulative percentage of cases.


·       20% 1 hr 50 minutes

·       40% 4 hrs 30 minutes

·       50% 7 hrs 30 minutes

·       70% 17 hrs 00 minutes

·       80% 24 hrs 00 minutes

·       90% 48 hrs 00 minutes

·       99% 11 days


Things to consider:


·       By this age, we see diagnosed mental conditions beginning to appear (depression, AHDH, self harm etc)

·       Those suffering from ADHD tend to travel further afield

·       Females tend to be traced at friend’s home and take longer to trace due to number of address checks to be carried out

·       Males tend to hang about the streets and are traced quicker by general police patrols

·       Children placed in new children/foster homes some distance from previous address tend to go back to that area to be with their real friends. Many who travel longer distances are running off back to their home towns

·       In this sample, 50% were female and 50% male

·       61% went missing on foot, 15% used public transport

·       55% went missing from home, 16% from children/foster homes

·       50% were found by police, 34% by relatives (includes those who return home)


Missing children with ADHD

Children with ADHD who go missing can be at greater risk because of their condition. Their awareness of danger is reduced, this can lead them to engage in some physically dangerous activities, such as playing near fast flowing rivers or railway lines. They can be impulsive, often acting before they think, they are easily distracted and often forgetful. 


Children with ADHD have a tendency to travel further than children of a similar age who do not have ADHD. Their poor social skills may make it difficult for them to ask for help, or to engage with others. Because the effects of ADHD medication lasts for around four to five hours, it is imperative to establish early on in any missing person enquiry when the child last took his or her medication. 


Due to the impulsive nature of their condition and their tendency to be distracted by irrelevant things, it is difficult to predict the places that they will be found. Therefore it is extremely important to establish what their interests are, as these may provide vital clues as to the places they are likely to go to or the activities they might indulge in. 


Finally, remember that no label or diagnosis will give a perfect description of an individual child with ADHD. They are all different, and will act in different ways.


What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects both children and adults. The main  characteristics of ADHD are hyperactive and impulsive behaviour, often coupled with a very short attention span, and a difficulty forming relationships with others. It is estimated that 0.5-1% of children in the UK suffer from some form of ADHD and of those, around 60% will still be affected by some characteristics of the disorder in adulthood. ADHD is commonly treated using either one of two drugs: methylphenidate (Ritalin) or dexamphetamine (Dexedrine), which are both highly effective at controlling the symptoms of ADHD.


In order to compile an accurate behavioural profile of a missing ADHD sufferer, it is important the characteristics of the disorder are fully understood. An ADHD sufferer can behave quite differently to a non-ADHD sufferer, and awareness of these differences in the early stages of a missing person incident, should lead to a more informed enquiry/search.


Some children have significant problems with concentrating and paying attention, but are not necessarily overactive or impulsive. These children are sometimes described as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) rather than ADHD. ADD can easily be missed because the child is quiet and dreamy, rather than disruptive.


ADHD in Children


In children, the most typical behavioural characteristics are as follows:


Overactive behaviour (hyperactivity)

Describes a child who races around, is unable to sit still, and who often interferes with other children’s activities. Children with severe ADHD may be rejected or disliked by other children, because they disrupt their play or damage their possessions.


Impulsive behaviour

Children with ADHD may be impulsive in many ways, such as saying or doing the first thing that occurs to them. They are also easily distracted by irrelevant things.


Difficulty in paying attention

Children with ADHD have a short attention span. They find it hard to concentrate and therefore hard to learn new skills, both academic and practical.


Problems settling at school

Because they are overactive and impulsive, children with ADHD often find it difficult to fit in at school.

They may also have problems getting on with other children, and these difficulties can continue as they grow up. It is essential to note that ADHD is not related to the level of intelligence - children with all levels of intelligence and ability can have ADHD.


ADHD in Adults


ADHD which begins in childhood, can persist into adulthood as well. While some children outgrow ADHD, approximately 60% will carry some of their symptoms into adulthood. Adults tend to have ADD rather than full blown ADHD. Symptoms of this may include lack of focus, disorganization, restlessness, difficulty finishing projects, and/or losing things. Adults suffering from ADD may experience difficulties at work, in their personal relationships or at home.




The two most common drugs prescribed for ADHD and ADD are methylphenidate (Ritalin) and dexamphetamine (Dexedrine). The effects of these drugs tend to last for four to five hours.



What is depression?

Depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem. People often use phrases like “I’m depressed” to describe a temporary low mood, or how they are feeling about a particular situation in their life. In most cases, these low spirits lift of their own accord after a short period of time. However, if these feelings of unhappiness worsen and begin to interfere with how someone lives their everyday life, then it is possible that they may be developing major or clinical depression. The word “clinical” simply means that the condition is severe enough to need some form of treatment.

Often people experiencing depression feel hopeless about the future and unable to see any positives in life. They may feel apathetic and unable to participate in activities they used to enjoy.


At its worst, depression can lead to such feelings of helplessness and lack of worth that people may give up the will to live, or begin to consider suicide. However, someone suffering depression, is not automatically at risk of taking their own life.


How common is depression?


Depression can affect anyone at any time. Depression can occur in people from all backgrounds, any occupation, and at any time of life. Depression is diagnosed twice as often in women as in men, however this may be because men are more reluctant to discuss these sorts of issues with doctors. Current missing person research indicates that far more depressed men are being reported missing to the police than women. Medical research suggests that one person in six will become depressed at some point in their lives, and, at any one time, one in twenty adults will be experiencing depression.


What causes depression?


There is no one cause of depression. It varies from person to person. Broadly speaking there are three main triggers for developing depression. Social factors such as losing your job, isolation, divorce or bereavement can all trigger depression in peoples lives. For others, the trigger may be  psychological factors such as chronic anxiety, childhood rejection or family background. A third trigger for depression may be physical factors such as infectious diseases like influenza or glandular 

fever; having a long-term physical health problem like multiple sclerosis; or as a side-effect of medical treatments like chemotherapy. It is also thought that some people may have a genetic predisposition towards depression.


Depressed males on foot -  where are they likely to be found?


Depressed people often simply desire time alone, many are found walking in the street, with the majority being located in a rural environment. The second most likely place is walking in city centres. Approximately 35% will return home of their own accord, 80% travelling no further than 9 km from their home address. Some go to friends addresses, some leave places of care / mental hospitals and go to their home address. Others go to relatives’ addresses. It should be born in mind that some of these people will be contemplating suicide, it is therefore important to consider local woods (hanging), and local areas of water (drowning). The places they go to will usually be familiar to them and often have some significant meaning to them. (See section on Suicide).



It should be noted that it is strongly suspected transport was used in the final 10% of these cases. Where longer distances are involved, people were going to specific locations such as relatives addresses, or to get back to their home address


Depressed males on public transport – where are they likely to be found?


Many people using public transport do so to travel to another town or city, there is usually a strong reason for choosing to go to a particular location. This is usually somewhere the person has relatives, or a place of major significance, such as the place they were brought up, or spent a significant period of time as a resident. These people can often be found simply wandering round the central streets of their chosen town/city.



It would be unusual for someone contemplating suicide to make use of public transport. 60% of these people tend to be located within 20 hours & 80% within 42 hours


Depressed females on foot – where are they likely to be found?


Some of these women will return home of their own accord (approx. 17%). A significant number will go to friends addresses (approx. 15%) and relatives addresses (8%). Many will be found walking in the street, usually in an urban or city centre environment (approx 17%). Women will seek help and therefore will turn up at both medical and psychiatric hospitals, police stations, social services departments, sheltered accommodation and places of worship. Some are just seeking time alone, and can be found at rural beauty spots. It must be born in mind that some of these women will be contemplating suicide. With drowning being the most common method, local rivers and other bodies of water should be given consideration. 80% of these people tend to be located within 17 hours.



It should be noted that it is strongly suspected transport was used in the final 5% of these cases. Unfortunately this can not be confirmed. Where longer distances are involved, it was found people were going to specific locations such as relatives addresses, or to get back to their home address, or possibly to a specific place to contemplate suicide


Depressed females using public transport – where are they likely to be found?


Many people using public transport do so to travel to another town or city, there is usually a strong reason for choosing to go to a particular location. It is usually somewhere the person has friends /relatives, (approx. 30% are located at friends/relatives addresses), or the place will have some form of significance to them, such as the place they were brought up, or spent a significant period of time as a resident. If they are not located at friends/relatives addresses, they can often be found simply wandering round the streets of their chosen town/city. If public transport is the known method of travel, then searches at bus and railway stations are often worthwhile. Some females book themselves into accommodation, others turn up at medical facilities whilst others seek help at police stations.



It would be unusual for someone contemplating suicide to make use of public transport. 80% of these people tend to be located within 32 hours.


Guidance notes:


These ‘Profiles’ may be used by both supervisors and investigating officers as an aid to  formulating enquiry strategies, and as a ‘bench mark’ against which to establish and review risk assessments.


Virtually all reports of missing children processed by the police are classed as high priority, and attract a high risk assessment. Subsequent enquiries often result in the allocation of numerous police resources. Before committing these resources, supervisors should have a clear enquiry strategy, taking into account the most efficient use of available staff, time scales for working within and

an initial search/enquiry area into which their efforts should be concentrated.


In order to formulate an effective strategy, it is first necessary to have some knowledge of what the missing child is likely to do, the distances they are likely to travel and who they might be with. For example five year old children do not behave, or think, in the same way as fifteen year olds.


Studying the behaviour of missing children, it is possible to divide them into the following five distinct age groupings: ages 1 - 4, 5 - 8, 9 - 11, 12 - 14 and 15 - 16. Each of these groups tends to displays its own behavioural characteristics. Using these unique characteristics, it is possible for police officers to:


·       Establish a ‘high probability’ area within which to concentrate their enquiry. 

·       Utilise an intelligence-led approach in the deployment of resources. 

·       Target the most likely places where the child might be traced. 

·       Establish a likely time-frame within which there should be a reasonable expectation of tracing the child.




If the missing child is a 7 year old male, there is a high  probability they will be hanging about in the streets. Therefore concentrating police efforts into searching streets/public parks within an area 550 metres from the ‘place missing from’ may well be the most appropriate use of available resources. This could be followed up with address checks of relatives and friends within a slightly larger area. If resources allow, both these lines of enquiry could be carried out simultaneously.


Alternatively, if the missing child is a 7 year old female, there is a higher probability she will be at a friend’s house. The supervisor may therefore place a higher emphasis on having the addresses of all friends/relatives checked within the 70% zone (ie: up to one kilometre from the ‘place missing from’). The important issue here is obtaining a comprehensive list of friends’ addresses. The parents will have some knowledge, but the child could have numerous school friends the parents know nothing about. Consideration should be given to approaching the school for a full class list which can be used to systematically check all the addresses within the selected search area. Unless good information dictates otherwise, all address checks outwith the initial search area should be left until the decision is made to extend the search area.


In both the above cases, as well as carrying out an initial thorough search of the child’s home, further periodic checks should be made during the enquiry, as the child may return there and hide.


Should the initial search/enquiry be carried out and no trace of the missing child found, the enquiry supervisor will have to consider the following:

·       Are the time scales now beyond those in which there was a reasonable expectation of tracing the child ?

·       Are there still places within the initial search/enquiry area which require further investigation ?

·       Should the search be extended out beyond the areas initially selected ?

·       Does the incident justify further resources being allocated to it ?

·       Should the current status of the enquiry be brought to the attention of senior officers/CID ?


The statistical data contained in the preceding tables should assist officers in reaching logical informed decisions when considering these extremely important issues.