National Missing Children's Day is on May 25 and serves as a reminder that we must continue to shine a spotlight on the plight of missing children and the ongoing efforts to reunite them with their families. Created by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 in memory of a six-year-old boy who disappeared in New York City on the same date in 1979, the goal is to make child safety a priority throughout the United States.
In 2022 alone, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) assisted law enforcement, families and child welfare with 27,644 cases of missing children. To help further the organization’s objective, in 2020 OnSolve partnered with the NCMEC to provide the communications technology behind their AMBER Alert system. Since then, OnSolve CodeRED has helped with more than 90,000 cases of missing or abducted children and adults.
As we focus on the importance of child safety, here are three ways to help your community:
1. Recognize the Pervasive Threat
According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), in 2022 there were 359,094 entries for missing children in the U.S. Child abduction and exploitation can happen anywhere, whether your community is a small town or a sprawling metropolis. It’s vital for public safety officials to stay up to date on best practices and resources for protecting the most vulnerable segment of the population. Fortunately, training, technical assistance and educational materials are available at no cost through NCMEC.
Encourage your constituents to use multiple channels to stay informed. This includes monitoring local news via TV, radio and social media, subscribing to a government emergency notification service and downloading the CodeRED Mobile Alert app.
2. Cultivate Community Awareness
Prevention starts with education. Are the families in your municipality informed about ways to keep their children safe? May 25 is the perfect opportunity to encourage parents, guardians and educators to talk to children about safety, both online and face-to-face. With the rapid acceleration of social media, it can feel overwhelming to stay up to date on the threats posed to children on the internet.
Though they are necessary, these conversations can be uncomfortable for many people. However, as protectors and advocates of children, we have a duty to push past our own unease and prepare our youth to recognize and verbalize instances of abuse or danger. Public safety officials can help by directing parents and educators to various tips and guidelines, which can make it easier to initiate important safety discussions.
This conscious awareness has been translated into technology via emergency alerts, which increase the chance of rescue and recovery. Subscribers to the CodeRED Mobile Alert app receive location-based alerts for missing children, enabling the local community to supplement law enforcement by keeping a look-out.
3. Support the Families of the Missing
Parents and families who have lost a child endure never-ending grief. You cannot take away their pain, but you can ensure they are provided with every possible resource to cope with it. NCMEC offers crisis intervention, assistance with the reunification process and mental health services. Be sure to share these resources with anyone in your community dealing with a missing child.
To shine a light on the men and women who have gone above and beyond to prevent crimes against children, NCMEC hosts an annual Heroes’ Awards event. This year's ceremony on May 11 was held in Washington, D.C.
On May 25, we are called to raise awareness about how to better protect our most important resource – our children. What can we do? Technology continues to enhance information distribution about missing or abducted children. Informing as many people, devices and channels as possible with the most targeted and accurate information will result in continued success in the overall mission. Products like CodeRED can engage residents, businesses and visitors in a specific geographic area to maximize the effectiveness of a missing person message and poster. Finally, public safety officials can go above and beyond by making the appropriate resources and capabilities available every day, so your entire community is equipped to keep children safe.
Learn more about keeping your community informed and safe with CodeRED.