When the final bell on the final day of class rings, kids feel free, and sometimes they take that freedom too far.

The number of missing kids in the area and across the nation has increased this summer since school let out.

Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Detective Rhonda Jordan says having a schedule is important to keeping kids safe and accounted for.

"The children need to know how to get into contact with the parent, and the parents need to have resources – whether it be a phone or neighbor – to check in on the children to ensure they are where they are supposed to be," she said.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact law enforcement when they believe something is wrong.

"The main thing is that if a child is not where he or she is supposed to be and is not responding to a parent, we need to become involved immediately," Jordan said. "There doesn't need to be a delay in time."

Despite have cell phones and different ways to keep in contact with who they need to, some kids still forget to check in.

"Independence has a price," Jordan said. "If they feel like they are old enough to not have a babysitter during the day, the price you have to pay is to have a schedule to check in with the parents.

"It started a lot earlier and there have been a lot more juveniles that are not where they are supposed to be. We've had a few on Facebook already, and we don't want to continue this pattern. To ensure this pattern doesn't continue, we rely on the parents to have rules and guidelines for their children."

Callahan Walsh, son of America's Most Wanted host John Walsh and co-host of In Pursuit on Discovery ID, is a Child Advocate for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The NCMEC has helped recover over 290,000 missing children.

Walsh has seen the worst case scenarios when it turns out that a child didn't just forget to check in.

"Our mission here at the center is to help law enforcement recover missing children, end the child exploitation and to eradicate child victimization," he said. "We are on the front lines of the missing kids issue.

"Kids go missing in a variety of different ways. Some kids are abducted by strangers, some are taken by family members and some run away. A majority of the cases that we see are runaways. With the runaways, we know that one-in-seven is likely to become a sex trafficking victim. Often times, these runaways are lured and groomed by sexual predators."

The FBI reported 460,000 missing children last year and a majority of them are children forgetting to send a text or make a phone call to their parents.

"The reports don't always mean that someone is going around kidnapping someone in a van," Walsh said. "In fact, the stranger abductions are the smallest amount of cases that we see. We see 100-150 cases nationwide."

Walsh and the NCMEC created www.kidsmartz.org to teach parents and children how to avoid becoming another statistic.

"We want kids to be empowered by safe and smart decision making," Walsh said. "We try to make sure these kids do not go missing in the first place."