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Police Remind Parents to Closely Monitor Kids When Playing Outside

Reports of missing children increase during the summer. St. Joseph Police wants parents to be alert, and stay on guard.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It's that time of year where kids typically spend sun up to sun down outside with friends.

It's also that time of year where reports of missing children are common.

"It is an extremely high call volume during the summertime," said Sgt. Shawn Green with the St. Joseph Police Department.

The St. Joseph Police Department issued alerts for missing kids, twice this week.

One for 7-year-old Dustin Walters, on Tuesday, and another for 14-year-old Shelby Kerns on Wednesday.

The cases were not related, and both were found safe near their homes shortly after police were notified.

"Usually, though, the kids are over at a friend's house, and they maybe went to one friend's house, and left there, and gone with another friend. That's usually where we find them," said Sgt. Green.

In the last year, 522 people were reported missing, or runaways, in St. Joseph.

That's 30 more people compared to 2012 to 2013, but it is more common for kids to go missing, or runaway.

"We look at children based on their development and their age, whether it was actually a situation where a child ran away, or something else happened," Kristina Hannon with St. Joseph Family Guidance Center.

She says a lot of times, it ends up being a case where kids leave one friend's house, and head to another, without notifying parents.

"They see I'm at my friend's house. I can go have fun at another friend's house, too," she said.

However, it is a different case for those who runaway, especially for kids ages 10 to 15.

"They may not want to have an interaction with their parents where the mom says, 'no. If you don't come home right now, I'm going to come get you,' so they just don't call mom or dad," said Hannon.

No matter the age, police want parents to stay alert, and closely monitor their loved ones as summer continues.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Justice, 797,500 kids were reported missing during a one-year period.

That is an average of 2,185 kids reported missing each day.
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