National Missing Children's Day deserves more attention

National Missing Children's Day deserves more attention
(Source: Ohio Amber Alert)
(Source: Ohio Amber Alert)

Everyone knows that Monday is Memorial Day.

But there is another national holiday before that, one that is just as important.

May 25 is National Missing Children's Day.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, around 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States. That's roughly 2,000 children per day.

Former President Ronald Reagan dubbed May 25 as National Missing Children's Day in 1983. A series of high-profile missing children cases, like the Etan Patz case, inspired Reagan to make this national day.

6-year-old Patz disappeared on May 25 in 1979 while walking to the bus stop in Manhattan alone for the first time ever. Patz was never seen again and his body was never found.

Patz's killer was finally convicted in 2017, almost 40 years after he disappeared.

Read the full story here:

The Etan Patz story is tragic, but what happened to him has put laws into place to help find other missing children more easily.

Patz was one of the first missing children to appear on a milk carton, and because of the Patz family the FBI can immediately investigate any reported mysterious disappearance or kidnapping of children 12 or younger. The FBI can also assist local police departments in abductions of all children under 18.

Another child who has changed the lives of missing children and their families is Amber Hagerman. The 9-year-old was abducted and murdered in January 1996. No justice was ever brought to her family.

Because of this case, local broadcast journalists worked with law enforcement to create the AMBER Alert.

AMBER actually stands for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. AMBER Alerts have been around for 21 years, and more than 800 children have been found specifically because of this alert system.

Last year, there were a reported 23,466 people missing in Ohio. About 80% of those missing were children. A majority of those children were between 13 and 17 years of age. Fortunately, 98 percent of these children are found safe, according to the Ohio Attorney General's office.

"A missing child is one of a parent's worst fears," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "Fortunately, most children who are reported missing return safely in a short period of time. But in cases where children are still missing, we must never give up trying to find them."

There are currently 600 children listed as missing in Ohio.

So what should you do if your child goes missing?

First and foremost, called the police. After law enforcement has been notified, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). Look through closets, piles of laundry, under beds, any place that your child might be hiding. Get pictures and a description of you child out to the public as fast as you can.

Know what to do if your child is missing:

The Help Bring Them Home Campaign states that "the main purpose of International Missing Children's Day is to encourage everyone to think about children who remain missing and to spread a message of hope by releasing a balloon."

We never forget those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country on Memorial Day. In that same way, we must never forget these missing children and their families.

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