FBI Cleveland
Special Agent Vicki D. Anderson
(216) 522-1400
May 25, 2016

National Missing Children’s Day, Wednesday, May 25, 2016

National Missing Children’s Day was first observed in 1983, following a proclamation by U.S. president Ronald Reagan. Between the years of 1979 to 1981, a series of child abductions gained the attention of the American public. Ethan Patz was six years old when he disappeared on his way to school on May 25, 1979. Although he was never found, the boy was legally declared dead in 2001. This case received a large amount of media attention and ultimately lead to the formation of the missing children’s movement. National Missing Children’s Day falls on the anniversary of his disappearance.

The FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force is one way the FBI and its law enforcement partners combat crimes against children. The FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force is composed of law enforcement agents from the FBI, Cleveland Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. The Task Force investigates missing and exploited children, child prostitution, and other significant violent crimes.

Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cleveland Division, announces the FBI’s continued support of National Missing Children’s Day, May 25. Anthony states, “National Missing Children’s Day reminds us all that we should take the time to focus on children, on keeping them safe, educating them on how to be safe, whether they are in their neighborhood or online. It is imperative that law enforcement authorities and community members join forces in protecting our children. The FBI will devote all necessary resources in order to bring a missing child home.”

Chief Calvin D. Williams, Cleveland Division of Police, added, “National Missing Children’s Day exists to highlight unsolved cases of missing children and to bring awareness to issues surrounding abduction and human trafficking. For many families, the pain of losing a child to abduction is all too real. It is important that law enforcement and the community work together to solve these cases and bring victims home. The Cleveland Division of Police is proud to partner with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in this important endeavor.”

“National Missing Children’s Day honors our commitment to help locate and recover missing children, and it brings to focus our obligation to create a safe environment for the children of our communities,” said Sheriff Cliff Pinkney, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office. “The onus is on our entire community to protect the sanctity of childhood.”

Chief Andres Gonzalez, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority stated, “We must never allow another tragedy to occur in our community. We must remain vigilant and watchful for all our children. Always be aware, if you see something suspicious, take immediate action and call your local police department. Time matters.”

“Only 25 percent of [homeless] youth are ever reported missing,” reports Karen McHenry, LISW-S, LCDC, Bellefaire JCB Homeless and Missing Youth Program Manager. “Bellefaire JCB is committed to helping the Cleveland Division of the FBI raise awareness around the important conversation of missing youths, as well as finding these young victims. In addition to canvassing neighborhoods of missing teens, we provide education to parents and youth on how to stay safe.”

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, as 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, and 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.

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 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) created this program in 1997 with the goal of fingerprinting 20 million children; to date, more than 26 million ID Kits have been distributed. 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 in the App Store on iPhones.

In 2001, the FBI joined in partnership with the AFCA to help increase awareness regarding the need to improve child safety. Additional tips for keeping children safe are listed on www.fbi.gov and www.missingkids.com.

According to FBI reports, 460,699 NCIC entries were made in 2015 for missing children, down from 466,949 in 2014.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that approximately 86 percent of missing children are endangered runaways, 10 percent are family abductions, 2 percent are lost or injured, 1 percent are non-family abductions, and 1 percent are critically missing young adults between the ages of 18 to 20.

To date, the AMBER alert program has been credited with the safe recovery of 816 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 the Westtown Plaza (West 110th and Lorain) on National Missing Children’s Day, May 25th from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. The media and community are invited to join us.

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

Any questions regarding this news release can be directed to SA Vicki D Anderson at the Cleveland Office of the FBI, 216-522-1400 or Vicki.anderson@ic.fbi.gov.