National Missing Children’s Day is commemorated on May 25 to remember missing children and spread the word about child abduction. All around the country, various organizations organize events to spread the word about the safety of children. The day serves as a reminder to strengthen our efforts to try to reunite the children who are missing with their families and honor all those who are working for the cause.
History of National Missing Children’s Day
National Missing Children’s Day was proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 to acknowledge the many children who go missing each and every year. From 1979 to 1981, a series of child abductions shook America. And it began with the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz in New York City, on May 25, 1979, while he was on his way to school from the bus. Etan was unfortunately never found but the accused, Pedro Hernandez, received a prison sentence in 2017.
National Missing Children’s Day is observed to commemorate the date of the disappearance of Etan Patz and honor all other missing children. During the time of Etan’s disappearance, child abduction gained almost no attention from the national media. Yet, Etan’s case stirred up an uproar and received a lot of coverage. And, as a result, there was a huge search and increase in the attention of the public on child abductions and the lack of proper plans to address the issue. This finally led to the Missing and Exploited Children’s Movement.
The U.S. Department of Justice commemorates National Missing Children’s Day every year with a ceremony to honor the heroic efforts of all those organizations, agencies, and people who work towards the protection of children.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) holds events on the day to spread awareness among the public about the threat of child abduction, ways to keep children safe, and supporting the victimized families. The center also started the “Take 25” initiative that encourages people to take 25 minutes and talk to their kids about the importance of safety.
National Missing Children’s Day timeline
John Walsh and Revé Walsh establish the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as a private NGO for information regarding missing and exploited children.
May 25 is recognized formally as International Missing Children’s Day by the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Missing Children Europe.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children begins promoting its global message about the issue of child abduction to the Global Missing Children’s Network.
Pedro Hernandez, accused of kidnapping and the murder of Etan Patz, is sentenced to 25 years in prison after 38 years on trial.
National Missing Children’s Day FAQs
What is the most famous missing child case?
The abduction of Etan Patz is what gave birth to Nation Missing Children’s Day. It is perhaps the most famous missing child case in the U.S.
How many kids go missing a year in America?
It is estimated that 2,300 children go missing every day in America. As for the yearly estimate, the figure is 460,000.
What is the longest kidnapping?
The kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard is the longest kidnapping in the U.S. She was kidnapped on June 10, 1991, in Meyers, California, and recovered and identified on August 26, 2009.
How to Observe National Missing Children’s Day
Recognize the dedicated
If there is an organization or person in your community dedicated to the protection of children, organize an event to recognize them. You can also spread the word via social media.
Organize an awareness event
Organize an event with your friends in your neighborhood to stress the importance of the matter. Discuss various ways in which the safety of children can be better promoted.
Attend a ceremony
If there is a ceremony in your locality that honors the law enforcement and/or citizens dedicated to the cause, attend it. Also, use the hashtag #NationalMissingChildrensDay and share this information on social media.
5 Facts About Missing Children That You Didn’t Know
Forget me not
The forget-me-not flower is the symbol of International Missing Children's Day.
In the U.S., an estimated one in six reported runaways (to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) end up in child sex trafficking.
In the U.S., an estimated 2,300 children go missing every day and 460,000 are reported missing every year.
Not all abducted
Almost 90% of children missing either lose their way, run away, or misunderstood path directions.
Only around 100 cases of missing children (less than 1% of the total missing children) are covered in the news.
Why National Missing Children’s Day Is Significant
It highlights the issue
The day focuses on highlighting the issue of missing, abducted, and exploited children. It encourages people to delve deeper into the seriousness of the issue.
It shows how people can contribute
The day stresses various ways in which people can contribute to bringing missing children back to their families. It makes people come together and work towards a mutual goal.
It honors the worthy
The day honors all those who are working day and night to find out more about children who are missing. It also thanks all the relevant organizations for their efforts.
National Missing Children’s Day dates