Cape Town - If your child disappears, do not waste any time reporting it. That’s the number one tip to all parents and guardians during the holidays.

A child disappears every six hours in South Africa – that’s 1 460 children each year – and of these 87 percent are found within the first week.

The police advise: “There is no waiting period before reporting a person as missing; time is of the essence so it should be done immediately.

“The sooner you report a missing person to the police, the sooner they can assist you in searching for him/her.”

When a child disappears, Missing Children SA advises:

* Don’t wait 24 hours.

* Complete a “Saps 55” form at the nearest police station.

* Contact Missing Children SA at 072 647 7464.

* Send them this information: the name and age of the child; how the child went missing; case number; police information, including the name of the officer who assisted; and the most recent photo of the child.

* Keep Missing Children SA updated on the progress.

Other tips from the police include knowing the schedules and movements of loved ones and family, and knowing your children’s friends. Police also recommend making a point of remembering the clothing they wear.

After reporting the case to police:

* Check local spots frequently visited by the missing child .

* Place posters, including a picture of the missing child, in store windows or notice boards in the community.

* Check again with your child’s friends, school and neighbours.

* Search for clues in your child’s bedroom, computer files and diary.

Missing Children SA advises parents to teach children the importance of not going anywhere alone and knowing their address and home phone numbers. - Cape Argus