National Missing Children’s Day, Monday, May 25, 2015
Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cleveland Division, announces the FBI’s continued support of National Missing Children’s Day, May 25. SAC Anthony states, “This day reminds us that we should each take those extra steps to ensure we are constantly teaching our children about safety. Unfortunately, the world has many predators, and we must, as a community of law enforcement and citizens, do everything we can to protect our most precious commodity. Be assured, in the tragic event a child is missing, the FBI will devote all necessary resources in order to bring that child home.”
Chief Calvin D. Williams, Cleveland Division of Police added, “The mission to find the missing is not something that law enforcement alone can accomplish. We need the help of the community, the promise to work side by side to bring families back together.”
“National Missing Children’s Day shines a bright light on missing children and the difficulty in finding loved ones,” said Sheriff Cliff Pinkney, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office. “We must do all we can to bring them back home to their loved ones; each and every one of us, together, can bring them home.”
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.”
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 6 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. His 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 comprised 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.
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. For 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 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.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that almost 800,000 children are reported missing in a one year time period, more than 2,100 children a day. Over 300,000 of these missing children are the victims of family abductions and over 58,000 are victims of family friends or family acquaintances. An estimated 115 children are the victims of kidnappings where the child is abducted by a stranger.
To date, the AMBER alert program has been credited with the safe recovery of 758 children. Each state, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have an AMBER alert plan.
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 at 216-522-1400 or Vicki.firstname.lastname@example.org.