On National Missing Children's Day Here Are 5 Ways to Keep Your Child Safe
May 25th is Missing Children's Day and is a day dedicated to the awareness of children's safety.
On May 25, 1979, six-year-old Etan Patz vanished on his way to school in New York City. He was never seen again. Although, nearly 40 years later, a local man was eventually convicted for the kidnapping and murder of Etan, the impact of that crime continues to reverberate through society today.
Etan's disappearance, as well as a number of other high-profile cases further focused attention on America's shocking epidemic of crimes against children and ignited massive public concern. Beginning in 1978, there were the "Atlanta Child Murders," a three-year nightmare that claimed 29 young lives; and in 1981 six-year-old Adam Walsh was abducted and murdered. The Walsh case ultimately led to significant changes in how police handle such issues and how mass media can play a role in finding lost children and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The momentum set in motion by the public's response to Etan, Adam, and the murdered children in Atlanta prompted a movement that has continually evolved and innovated through the years. An integral part of this movement was President Ronald Reagan's creation of National Missing Children's Day which he established on May 25, 1983, the anniversary of Etan Patz's disappearance.
Each year since then, the date reminds us anew of how important this cause is, and how critical it is to take precautions to protect children - especially for parents. So, while various agencies work to locate and rescue kids who have vanished, here are five things you can do to safeguard your family:
1. Keep Clear and Recent Digital Photos Readily Available
Regularly update your kids' "official" family photographs to have on hand in case of an emergency. Be ready to post pics online, email them to investigators, and print them out for posters.
2. Create Child ID Cards
Give your child a laminated identification card to carry in his or her pocket that contains a photograph, his or her name, address, date of birth, phone number, and other contact information.
3. Regularly Update Child ID Lists
Create, update, and regularly maintain lists regarding your child's vital information, along with nicknames, physical descriptions, identifying features such as scars or eyeglasses, and all relevant medical information.
4. Fingerprint Your Children
The National Child Identification Program (NCIP) regularly sets up free events where parents can get their children fingerprinted on cards that stay with the family and are not shared with anyone without a parent expressly doing so. In lieu of that, parents can order fingerprint kits online from the NCIP for a small fee. The FBI officially states that, for an emergency, having a copy of your child's fingerprints is "especially important."
5. Keep Up with GPS, Software, and Other Technology
Experts advise parents to stay up-to-date with the latest development in wearable tracking devices, smartphone apps, and other tech innovations when it comes to protecting and locating children.
As it is every year, today's National Missing Children's Day is an occasion to be grateful for all we have -- as well as to reach out to help others who are still suffering.
If you have information regarding missing or exploited children, please use the following resources:
1. Immediately alert local authorities when a child goes missing so they can issue an Amber Alert.
2. Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) online and use their 24-hour telephone hotline at 1 (800) THE-LOST.
3. Enter the missing person's information into the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
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