May 25th Is National Missing Children's Day
Posted by Marianne Frederick
It's 2012 and it's terrifying that the scourge of kids disappearing from their homes in America continues. We hear about it and see it in news media almost every week. My first memory of this terrible phenomenon was learning of the disappearance of the two young Lyons sisters, daughters of John and Mary Lyons, from a Maryland shopping mall in 1975, 37 years ago. Because John Lyons was a popular radio personality on WMAL, much publicity was given to the case, but it was never solved and the children, ages 12 and 10 at the time of their disappearance, never returned home. Little more than a week ago, 12-year old Alexandria Bain and 8-year old Kyliyah Bain were still missing from their home--thankfully, they were found, but two members of their family, their mother and sister did not survive their abduction.
In a recent comment in an article on the disappearance of 6-year old Isabel Mercedes Celis (April 21, 2012), Ernie Allen, CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, qualified through statistics just how serious the issue of missing children is, "Each year, 58,000 children are abducted by strangers and released, according to the most recent statistics. Of those, 115 were 'stereotypical' kidnappings carried out by strangers... and 16 percent of those were taken from home."http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/arizona-family-stop-missing-girl-article-1.1066506#ixzz1v8q4bHfH.
Allen says that nearly 75 percent of the victims are young girls ages 12 to 14, with the next largest group of victims young girls ages 6 to 11. Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly Klaas, went missing in 1993, says at the time there were few police protocols on how to manage a missing child investigation. Now, in 2012, with the help of technology, better protocols for investigations, the ability of law enforcement to share information, and the existence of social media, one might think it would be easier to find missing kids, but still others say social media has actually increased predation on children.
In 1983, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children moved families a step forward by launching their "Take 25" program encouraging parents, guardians, and other trusted-adult role models to spend time talking to kids and teaching them ways to be safer. Here are some of the ways NCMEC suggests parents, caregivers, teachers and others can keep kids safer (and we encourage you to visit NCMEC's website athttp://www.take25.org/page.asp?page=50 for more):
- Teach kids their full names, addresses and telephone numbers. Make certain they know your full name too.
- Make sure your children know how to reach you at work or on your cell phone.
- Teach your kids how and when to use 911, and make sure your kids have a trusted adult to call if they get scared or are in an emergency situation.
- Teach kids to keep the door locked and not to open the door to talk with anyone, or let anyone in, if they are at home alone.
- Choose babysitters with care. Get references from family and friends. Once you have employed a sitter, drop in unexpectedly to make sure your child is being cared for well.