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Sunday Mornings with Rania: Sloane G. Soler - When They Disappear

Rania Mankarious
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Rania Mankarious

Rania Mankarious is executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston(Photo: lawellphoto.com)

Editor's Note: We received reports in the evening of Oct. 16 that Sloane was found. We're so thankful to hear that she is safe and home.

I hate these headlines but here it was, staring back at me on my computer screen:

Teen goes missing in West University (abc13)

16-year-old girl missing from West U (KHOU)

Sloane G. Soler was last seen Oct. 12, 2016 when she went missing from the 6400 block of Brompton. A Lamar High School student, Sloane was last seen wearing blue shorts, white Adidas shoes with black stripes, a blue jean jacket and a blue backpack. She is 5’8”, weighs about 130 lbs., and has green eyes and brown hair.  

Her social media posts (those I could see, that is) paint the picture of a decent, smart, athletic, inquisitive, witty young girl.

It goes without saying that for a parent dealing with a missing youth, every second is agony. My deepest and sincerest hope is that by the time this is published, Sloane will be back home, with her family, where she belongs.

Authorities believe Sloane may have run away and be in Houston, Texas or traveled to San Francisco, California.

Parents, if any of you have kids who know Sloane: please have them pay attention to Snapchat, Instagram and Gmail, as she often uses these accounts. She does not have her phone with her but if she has access to a laptop or phone with friends then she may be on these sites.

Kids, please share what you know. Kids who have information but are withholding from law enforcement could be criminally charged. If there is an older man involved (hopefully not), once found, he will be criminally prosecuted under the law. It’s critical that if anyone – including kids – are withholding information, they should understand the gravity of the situation and share what they know now. 

But as of this moment, Sloane's whereabouts are still unknown. So what could have happened? Someone, somewhere, knows something. For those that do, please – call the West U police at 713-668-0330 with any information.  

And what does this mean for us? We talk all the time about keeping kids safe and I am sure the Solers did just that . . . but would you know what to do the instant your child disappears?

  • Act immediately. Statistics for survival and location are best within the first 24 hours. This means contact local law enforcement the instant you are certain your child is missing.
  • Be prepared to supply a complete, detailed description of your child including clothes, physical appearance, as well identifying marks on their body.
  • Have recent photos available. Be prepared to provide these photos to investigators, media and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) 1-800-THE-LOST or 1-800-843-5678. Parents, the immediate aftermath of a missing child is beyond traumatic. You may not want to go through this process as it solidifies the gravity of the situation. That said, you have no choice. The first 24 hours are the most critical and require you to be calm and do every possible thing necessary to get your child back.
  • Be able to answer questions – where were they or where should they be at that specific time of the day. Parents, this is a good exercise for you and your kids. You drop them off at school and pick them up but how many of us know where they are during the day? When do they have classes, when do they or could they leave their campuses? When are they not in the care of someone from the school? Additionally, go through the areas surrounding their schools, point out areas that are unsafe and in which they should never venture out in alone and remind them, please, do always stay in pairs as much as possible. Many of us don’t actually know the details of our kid’s days at school - let’s change that.
  • Know of all social media accounts, passwords, email accounts and apps downloaded on their phones or iPads. Parents, this is another good exercise. You know your kids are online but do you know all their various accounts? Yes, privacy is good and you can trust each other not to access their accounts (depending on your child and your relationship) but explain to them why it is critically important that you have access in case of an emergency.
  • Ensure that law enforcement officials enter your child’s information into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File. Contact the Texas Center for the Missing and have them issue an Amber Alert. Also, ask law enforcement to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the abduction.
  • Your home will be part of the investigation so limit entrance to anyone outside of law enforcement. Officers will need to examine the child’s bedroom, computers and other personal effects and those will touch your entire house.
  • Keep written records of everything. Make sure you have the names and contact numbers of all investigators you talk to as well as anyone else who is investigating the case. This will allow you to update them quickly and vice versa as critical house of the case unfold.
  • Make a list of friends, family and acquaintances who have had recent contact with your child. This list should also include those you have had conflict with (especially negative dealings), new neighbors and any others that have reason to know your child and the ability to have access to him/her during the day.
  • Stay calm. It’s impossible, I know, but stay as calm as possible. Your child needs you to be calm and do everything you can to get him/her back. If you have other children, this is especially important.

It is a horrible situation. It’s the worst of the worst. Whether you are dealing with a runaway or an abducted child, the dangers to your child are too much to bear. And while the probability of this happening is low, please take a moment to think about these steps, ask your kids the questions above and have a mental plan in place.

For now, my heart and mind is with the Soler family.   

A community Facebook page was created to share any updates regarding Sloane Soler. Please call West University Police at (713) 668-0330 with any information you may have.

For more information on Crime Stoppers of Houston, go to crime-stoppers.org and follow Crime Stoppers on Facebook. Have topics in mind that you’d like Rania to write about? Email her directly at rmankarious@crime-stoppers.org. Connect with Rania on Instagram and Twitter. Read past Sundays with Rania posts here.

Editor's Note: Views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Buzz Magazines.

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