In North American, May 25 has been National Missing Children’s Day since 1983. National Missing Children’s Day highlights the problem of child abduction. The date was selected because it May 25, 1979 is the day that six-year-old New Yorker, Ethan Patz, disappeared on his way to school.
During those thirty years, attention has been drawn to missing children of Canada and USA.
This year, nearly 20,000 events are expected to take place throughout the North America and abroad.
The US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported nearly 800,000 children under 18 missing in a one-year period of time. That’s an average of over 2000 children who go missing each day in USA alone!
Of this 800,000 over 25% were family abductions.
Nearly 60,000 children were the victims of non-family abductions.
Only 115 children were the victims of “kidnapping” for ransom by a stranger.
From 1997 until March of 2012, The US AMBER Alert program have resulted in the safe recovery of 572 children. Amber alerts are in place in every state.
“Our Government takes the safety of its citizens very seriously, particularly when it comes to the most vulnerable members of society – our children,” said Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Vic Toews. “There is no greater fear for a parent than the possibility of a missing child.”
In both Canada and USA, May 25 is an important day to remember missing children and their loved ones. It is also a day to work toward programs to curb the number of children who go missing.
Some of these initiatives include presenting long-standing cases of missing children in the hopes of obtaining new information from the public that could generate new investigative avenues for these cases and help bring these children home.
This year nine of these cases of missing kids from across Canada will be profiled.
A sheriff’s department held a contest open to fourth graders. The children submitted artwork for “Bicycle Safety” and “Personal Safety.” booklets. The activity books are distributed throughout the county and reinforce safety in such areas as: bicycle safety, traffic safety, stranger awareness, home security, distracted driving, and injury prevention.
An area YMCA held a Fun and Safety Day. Families and children are given hands-on safety activities to reinforce child safety in such areas as stranger awareness and home security.
An elementary school had a day of Safe Child activities that included a bike safety check; bike driving obstacle course; a speaker on stranger danger; a local parent whose child was missing; babysitting safety; be alert on your walk to school; a bus safety demonstration; a child safety poster making workshop; and a representative from child find to do an ID kit for every child in the school who did not already have one. The school was recognized by the board and the province for its initiative. Many other schools from all over North America have contacted the school and are planning similar events this year.
A Georgia Sheriff’s Office this year will provide fingerprinting for kids, car seat safety demonstrations, a “wheel of safety” game and a “stranger danger” program. Sheriff’s vehicles and staff will be on-site for photo opportunities.
A small town YMCA in Alabama will hold a “Healthy U,” series of fun activities designed to make kids aware of missing children. Activities will include a speaker from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, games, videos, and contests all emphasizing stranger danger biking and walking safety, and home security. Each child will receive a tee shirt on which to design a Missing Children Day awareness message.
A group of parents, anxious to Take 25 with their ten to fourteen-year-olds, had a post-reading discussion based on the book Girl Missing by Sophie McKenzie.
Other groups used the powerful YouTube tribute to “Missing Children”
They followed it up with a discussion of the video, awareness, and safety activities.
What is your school or community organization doing to commemorate this important day? We’d love to hear from you!