Critical Communications, Public Alerting and Residential Safety

Community Awareness: May 25 Is National Missing Children’s Day

By Sarah Perry

On May 25, we recognize National Missing Children’s Day. 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 2020, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) assisted with more than 29,800 cases of missing children. To help further the organization’s objective, OnSolve® has partnered with NCMEC to enhance their emergency mass notification capabilities with OnSolve CodeRED®.

Today, let’s focus on the importance of child safety and what you can do to protect your community.

Understand the Ubiquitous Threat 

Approximately 460,000 children are reported missing every year in the United States. Child abduction and exploitation can happen anywhere, whether your community is a small town or a sprawling metropolis. As a public safety official, it’s vital to stay up to date on best practices and resources for protecting the most vulnerable segment of the population. Fortunately, you can receive training, technical assistance and educational materials 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.

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 the 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. As the new primary partner of the NCMEC AMBER Alert System, CodeRED has helped find more than 3,500 missing children to date. Subscribers to the CodeRED Mobile Alert app receive alerts for missing children through the OnSolve partnership with A Child Is Missing. These alerts are location-based, enabling the local community to supplement law enforcement by keeping a look-out for missing children. In recognition of their efforts in creating the first and only AI-powered risk intelligence product for the federal government space, OnSolve has received the 2021 Government Security Award from Security Today magazine.

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 has created the Hero Award. They will be honored in a weekly video tribute every Tuesday in May.

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 to 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.