National Missing Children's Day
By Caitlin Bootsma
Each year on May 25, we recognize National Missing Children's Day. By bringing awareness to the sobering reality of actual and attempted abductions, our society is more likely to be able to help children.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reports that over 18,300 attempted abductions were analyzed in 2019. It is important to realize that an abductor is not waiting around every corner, yet abductions tragically do happen.
As a person in care of children (whether they're our own, or others'), one of the primary things we can do is work to prevent abductions. For small children, that means constant supervision. For school-age children, as they develop more independence, there are a couple things to watch out for. NCMEC says that transition times—such as before and after school, and after dinner—are the most likely time for incidents. When kids are out walking and biking, make sure they know what to do in the case of a suspicious adult or older teen. The most successful ways that children have escaped from attempted abductions are by yelling for help and having other adults intervene. The best security measure of all, of course, is to provide a safety net of observation.
If you, or someone you know ever think that a child is missing, NCMEC recommends, of course, that you immediately look in hiding places, however unlikely, such as vehicles, large appliances, in closets, etc. The next step is to contact the police, asking them to also enter the child's information into the FBI's National Crime Information Center Missing Person File. NCMEC is also an important resource and can be reached at 1-800-THE-LOST or online at www.misskingkids.org. Please go to this site now, to prepare, in advance, material in the event that an abduction does occur. You can also go to this site to peruse cases of missing children, to see if there's anyone that you recognize, or any situation you might be able to help.
As community members, we should be ready to respond if a child is crying out in distress, as well as keeping our eyes on any suspicious situations. In addition, Amber Alerts are an important way that law enforcement gets the word out about children in danger. It takes only a minute to scan the information provided and commit it to memory in case you have seen a child that fits the description.
Each of us can do our part to make our communities safer for children—by having important conversations with our own children, by staying alert for suspicious situations, and by intervening when a child needs help if it is ever necessary.
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