A technical mishap at a California school led to the parents of all 717 pupils receiving an alert informing them that their child was absent.
John Adams Elementary School, in south-western California, uses a system which sends out an automated text message to the parents of any pupils who fail to turn up to class.
But an error meant that the alert was unintentionally sent out to all parents, triggering panic as mums and dads frantically tried to make contact with the son or daughter they had dropped at the school gates or waved out the front door just hours before.
Little did they know that their children were calmly going about their school day as usual, unaware that their parents had been informed that they were missing from school grounds.
It only took staff at the school eight minutes to realise their error and send out a hasty correction - but for many parents it was the longest eight minutes of their lives as they imagined the worst.
By the time the correction had been issued eight minutes later, parents were already beginning to arrive at the school, desperate to find out why their child had never arrived that morning.
"I was scared to death," Angel Lomeli, who has four children at the school, told the local newspaper.
Another parent, Shane Reichardt, was about to make the 46-mile drive from a meeting to the school to find out what had happened to his seven-year-old when the correction came through.
"To tell a parent their child is unaccounted for could quite possibly be the scariest thing a parent could ever imagine. I hope they find a way to prevent it from happening [again]."
School district spokeswoman Evita Tapia-Gonzalez, apologised for the blunder and said that the school had implemented extra review measures for the alert system.
"There is an option to send messages to a filtered group," Tapia-Gonzalez said. "This one was sent to all parents. It was human error coupled with technology error."