National Missing Children’s Day Urges Parents to Prepare

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that a child goes missing every 40 seconds a child. Sometimes the child has just been playing quietly or hiding, but for many parents, the truth is that their children are nowhere to be found. Supervising Special Agent James Lewis said:

“We encourage the parents to have a plan. It’s crucial hours,” Lewis said. “If your child goes missing from the mall or the park, you don’t want to be fumbling around for a picture or description to give to the law enforcement agency.”

The investigators are encouraging parents to download its “Child ID App.” The application allows parents to save their children’s pictures, name, age, and other information that would help in identifying their kids. Then the data is available when and if it is ever needed.

Lauren Pastrana of CBS Miami writes that the app is easy to acquire and very user friendly. Agent Lewis stated that roughly 300,000 people have downloaded the free and secure app.

But one parent explained that he would not be using the app:

“I have plenty of pictures of my daughter. I have all of her personal information,” Hills said. “So if I need to turn it over I would. But I wouldn’t store it on an app.”

Lewis maintains, however, that none of the data is cached, and police officers will only have the information if a parent sends it to them directly. But, he added, with or without the app, authorities will be on a case immediately.

“We developed this ‘Child Abduction Checklist’ for local law enforcement, and in partnership with the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) our goal was to get this in the hands of every deputy in Broward County.”

Lt. Ken Kaminsky of the BSO said approximately 1,000 BSO employees have the checklist in their hands. The idea is to be prepared for any type of scenario. He added that just last month a two-month-old infant was taken from his home during a home invasion and BSO recovered the child.

May 25 was National Missing Children’s Day, which was first recognized by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. Ohio’s Gallipolis Daily Tribune and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) used the opportunity to remind parents of the tools that are available to assist them in quickly recovering an abducted or missing child.

Parents can be issued a state identification card for young people of any age. The card includes a digital photograph and information that law enforcement can quickly access. The ID photo becomes a part of the state’s operator’s license/identification database and is accessible to law enforcement officials by way of the Ohio Attorney General’s secure website.

BMV officials include that there are 190 locations across the state where state IDs can be obtained. The child’s digital photograph can be sent within minutes to sheriffs’ departments, Ohio State Highway Patrol cruisers, the Ohio Missing Children’s Clearinghouse, the Ohio AMBER Plan, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Companies such as Facebook and Uber have made moves to help with dispersing information about missing children through the use of smartphones and the internet.

The national day of awareness came after the disappearance of Etan Patz in New York City in 1979. His story was the impetus for creating more resources to find and assist missing children. The National Crime Information Center database and the NCMEC were the results of this push in the early 1980s, reports the Christian Science Monitor’s Ben Thompson.

Nationwide, over 450,000 cases of missing children were reported to law enforcement in 2015.

Louisiana State Police Trooper Melissa Matey explained a way that everyone can support the issue of missing children. She asks parents to take a picture with one sock on and post it to social media sites with the hashtag #RockOneSock. This one sock idea is a way to keep missing children in the spotlight and to let the world know that people are still looking for them.

Sheba Turk of WWL-TV also suggests accessing the website Kid-smartz.org where more information for parents can be found.