FBI Cleveland
Public Affairs Officer Susan Licate
May 25, 2021

Join Law Enforcement from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Steelyard Commons on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

National Missing Children’s Day was designated as May 25th by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, after the disappearance of Etan Patz six years earlier. At the time, cases of missing children rarely garnered national media attention, but his case quickly received extensive coverage. His father, a professional photographer, distributed black-and-white photographs of him in an effort to find him. The resulting massive search and media attention that followed focused the public’s attention on the problem of child abduction and the lack of plans to address it.

The FBI was given jurisdiction under the “Lindbergh Law” in 1932 to immediately investigate any reported mysterious disappearance or kidnapping involving a child of “tender age”—usually 12 or younger. However, the FBI goes one step further, any child missing under the age of 18 the FBI can become involved as an assisting agency to the local police department. There does not have to be a ransom demand, the child does NOT have to cross the state lines or be missing for 24 hours. Research indicates the quicker the reporting of the mysterious disappearance or abduction the more likely the successful outcome in returning the child unharmed.

Eric B. Smith, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cleveland Division, announces the FBI’s continued support of National Missing Children’s Day. Smith states, “National Missing Children’s Day is a reminder to talk to your children about safety, in the community and online. It is a great time for parents/guardians to discuss with their children tips to stay safe, such as: who is safe to talk to online and in person; who is safe to get in a car with; what personal information should not be provided to others; why it is imperative that a parent or guardian always know a child’s location and who they are with; additional tips are available online at www.fbi.gov. The FBI will devote all necessary resources in order to bring a missing child home.”

“Members of Law Enforcement remind the community of the importance of staying engaged and connected to issues and incidents involving missing children. Ending Human Trafficking remains one of the highest priorities for investigators throughout the country,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams. “Here in the city of Cleveland, we keep the families and the victims in our hearts as we remain dedicated to reuniting the missing with their loved ones.”

The National Child Identification Program is a community service initiative dedicated to changing statistics by providing parents and guardians with a tool they can use to help protect their children. The ID Kit allows parents to collect specific information by easily recording the physical characteristics and fingerprints of their children on identification cards that are then kept by the parent or guardian. If ever needed, this ID Kit will give law enforcement vital information to assist their efforts to locate a missing child. Kits are available to order from the National Child ID Program, to download from Google Play on Android phones and on iPhones.

According to a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) Internet safety pamphlet, a survey of 12 to 17 year olds revealed that 38% had posted self-created content such as photos, videos, etc. on line. Another survey of 10 to 17 year olds revealed 46% admit to having given out their personal information to someone they did not know. The likelihood that kids will give out personal information over the Internet increased with age.

Law enforcement reminds parents to be aware and involved, a few tips include:

  • Monitor your child’s use of the Internet, keep your computer in an open, common area of the house.
  • Tell your kids why it is important not to disclose personal information online.
  • Check your kids’ profiles and what they post online.
  • Explain to kids that once images are posted online they can lose control of them and can never get them back.
  • Remind kids to only add people they know in real life to their contact lists.
  • Ask your kids about the people they are communicating with online.

Additional tips for keeping children safe are listed on www.fbi.gov and www.missingkids.com. Teaching our children to avoid strangers is not enough!

According to FBI reports, 365,348 NCIC entries were made in 2020 for missing children. According to NCMEC, 21.7+ million tips were received regarding missing and exploited children in 2020.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that approximately 91% of missing children are endangered runaways, 5% are family abductions, 1% are lost or injured, 1% are nonfamily abductions and 3% are critically missing young adults between the ages of 18 to 20. Of the nearly 26,500 runaways reported to NCMEC in 2018, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking.

To date, the AMBER alert program has been credited with the safe recovery of 1,064 children. Each state, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have an AMBER alert plan.

The FBI, along with various law enforcement and community partners will be raising awareness about efforts to keep children safe at Steelyard Commons on Tuesday, May 25th from 11 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. The media and community are invited to join us.

The FBI is fully committed to support our local law enforcement partners investigating missing and endangered children.