It was May 25, 1979, when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared on his way to school. Two years later, another 6-year-old named Adam Walsh was abducted from a department store. These disappearances urged the first missing child movement, which evolved into “Missing Children’s Day.”
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Missing Children’s Day in 1983. It is now observed every May 25 – the date of Etan’s disappearance. The purpose is to encourage parents, caretakers, guardians and the public to prioritize children’s safety. Prior to these sad events, little or no efficient communication methods were available to respond to abductions. Any formal response system at this time was substandard by today's terms.
This day signals everyone to take action. Not just read a poster of a missing child, but to share it with other people. With social media, spreading awareness of missing children is paramount these days. Below are some ways that you can contribute to spreading the message of Missing Children's Day.
Do you believe that one small act can make a difference? Yes, it can. Sharing a tweet or social media update can spread to dozens of others. Those dozens can share to dozens more, creating the butterfly effect. Before you know it, your one tweet could reach tens of thousands of others and help someone in need.
2. Be Attentive and Cautious
If you were to witness something suspicious, what would you do? Would you call authorities or brush it off as “everything is probably ok?” Trust your gut. If you suspect you've witnessed a child in danger, report it.
3. Set an example
Every parent knows that they should not talk to strangers. Do you teach you kids the same or do you assume they know? Teach your kids not to talk to strangers, avoid bribes, and to trust their gut. Tell them it is ok to leave somewhere if they do not feel confident. Start young and harbor trust so your children can talk to you about anything.