Has been commemorated each May 25 since 1983, when it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan.
In the several years preceding the establishment of National Missing Children's day a series of high-profile missing-children cases made national headlines.
On May 25, 1979, Etan Patz disappeared from a New York City street on his way to school. The date of Etan's disappearance was designated as National Missing Children's Day. At the time, cases of missing children rarely garnered national media attention, but Etanís case quickly received a lot of coverage. His father, a professional photographer, distributed black-and-white photographs of Etan in an effort to find him. The resulting massive search and media attention that followed focused the public's attention on the problem of child abduction and the lack of plans to address it.
For almost three years media attention was focused on Atlanta, Georgia, where the bodies of young children were discovered in lakes, marshes, and ponds along roadside trails. Twenty-nine bodies were recovered before a suspect was identified and arrested in 1981.
Last year, parents abducted nearly 2,000 children to or from the United States. Thatís 40 children taken from their homes and from their loved ones each week. Abductions traumatize children, their parents, friends, and family. "International Parental Child Abduction is a painful scourge for so many, and it is something that deeply concerns me" Says Secretary of State Mrs. Hiliary Clinton.
At the State Department, we are committed to preventing child abduction and to helping the children and families caught up in these very complex situations. Our dedicated staff in the Office of Childrenís Issues works everyday to support families and children at risk. We help parents access the tools available to prevent international abductions, such as our Passport Issuance Alert Program.
When an abduction does occur however, we work with parents to identify the appropriate response and find the resources that can help bring their children home. In 2010, for example, we helped more than 575 children return to their homes and families, both in the United States and in countries around the world.
This work extends beyond individual families. So, we are encouraging foreign governments to join us as parties to The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Today we are treaty partners with 68 countries, and we want that number to grow. This convention is a necessary tool for resolving these difficult cases and giving more children the opportunity to come home.
On this National Missing Childrenís Day, letís continue to stand up, speak out, and do our part to keep our most vulnerable citizens safe. And letís help children around the world come home.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a message in honor of National Missing Children's Day, on May 24. Secretary Clinton says, "On this National Missing Children's Day let's continue to stand up, speak out, and do our part to keep our most vulnerable citizens safe. And let's help children around the world come home. (see related articles below).
U.S. Department of State US Dept of Travel
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