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NATIONAL MISSING CHILDREN'S DAY
NATIONAL MISSING CHILDREN’S DAY
National Missing Children’s Day on May 25th each year shines a spotlight on child safety. The day also honors the dedicated professionals who work tirelessly protecting children around the country.
Most children who go missing do come home. Whether they’ve wandered off or there was a misunderstanding, many find their way back to their family.
According to the Polly Klaas Foundation, 99.8 percent of children reported missing come home. Of those who are abducted, 9 percent are kidnapped by a family member. Only a small fraction are stranger abductions. However, the fact remains, if it happens to one child, that’s one child to too many.
Protecting Your Children
While today’s observance honors those who’ve gone above and beyond to protect children, it’s also a good opportunity to offer resources to keep your children safe every day. It’s important to:
- Maintain custody documents.
- Keep recent photos of children handy.
- Keep a copy of fingerprints.
- Make sure medical and dental records up to date.
- Monitor online activity.
- Set some rules about who your child hangs out with.
- Keep track of where your child is going.
- Get to know parents of friends.
- Complete background checks on caregivers and check references.
- Never leave young children unattended in strollers and car seats.
- Whenever possible, don’t dress children in clothing with their names on it.
- Teach your child their address and phone number as young as possible.
- Get to know your child’s friends.
- Schedule events and gatherings in public places with your child and their friends and invite their parents, too.
SUPPORT MISSING CHILDREN ORGANIZATIONS
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
- Office of Children’s Issues
- Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team
- Volunteer in your community.
- Share a safety presentation.
- Visit www.ojdp.gov to enter their poster contest.
- Use #MissingChildrensDay on social media to show support.
NATIONAL MISSING CHILDREN’S DAY HISTORY
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Missing Children’s Day recognizing the hundreds of thousands of children who went missing each year. Just a few short years before, six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from his New York City home on his way from the bus to school on May 25, 1979. The observance commemorated the date of Etan’s disappearance. In addition, it also honored missing children everywhere. During the time of his disappearance, cases of missing children rarely gained national media attention. However, Etan’s case quickly received much coverage. Etan’s father, who was a professional photographer, distributed black-and-white photographs of his son to find him. As a result, a massive search, along with media attention brought public attention on the problem of child abductions. It also brought awareness to the lack of plans to address child abductions.
As much as we hate to think about it, there are some things you should do if you or someone you know has a missing child. In the first 24 hours:
- Report the child missing immediately to a law enforcement agency.
- Have authorities to have your child listed in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Persons File. There is no waiting period for entry into NCIC for children under age 18.
- Request authorities to issue a BOLO (Be On The Look Out).
- If your child was abducted from your home, refrain from disrupting anything. Authorities normally collect evidence and moving, cleaning, throwing things way might hinder an investigation.
- Get the name and phone number of the investigator working on the missing child case. Remember to keep this information nearby and readily available.
- Provide as much detail about the facts related to the disappearance of your child, including what they were wearing.
- Making a list of friends, family, teachers, and anyone else who might have any important information about your child, where they might have been or where they might go.
- Tell authorities about work you may have had done or other people who were present at your home in the past year. Every detail helps.
- Make copies of the most updated photo of your child, both in color and black and white. Make sure every law enforcement agency, missing children organizations, media and social media have copies.
- Call 800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678) to ask for help with photo distribution.
- Gather phone numbers for any nonprofit organization that might be able to help find the missing child.
- With the help of authorities, organize a search party for your child, including the use of tracking vehicles, software, electronics and dogs.
- Keep a detailed list of incoming and outgoing calls at or in your home with the time, person calling or making a calling and how long they were on the phone.
- Find a support system to maintain your strength. Utilize any family or friends as much as possible.
- Eat and rest. It may be hard, but taking care of yourself during this time is important.