One of the most important tools for law enforcement to use in the case of a missing child is an up-to-date, good-quality photograph. Noted below are some tips for parents and guardians regarding such a photograph.
- The photograph should be a recent, head-and-shoulders color photograph of the child in which the face is clearly seen. It should be of "school-portrait" quality, and the background should be plain or solid so it does not distract from the subject.
- When possible the photograph should be in a digitized form. This minimizes the time necessary to scan, resize, and make color corrects before disseminating it to law enforcement.
- The photograph should be an accurate depiction of the child, not overly posed or "glamorized." Nor should other people, animals, or objects be in the photograph. The photograph should not be taken outside, out of focus, torn, damaged, or very small.
- The photograph should have space for accurate, narrative description useful to identify the child such as name, nickname, height, weight, sex, age, eye color, identifying marks, glasses, and braces.
- The photograph should be updated at least every six months for children 6 years of age or younger and then once a year, or when a child's appearance changes.
- All copies of child's photograph and information should be maintained in an easily accessible, secure space by the parents or guardian. The photograph and data should not be stored in a public database.