Washington, DC - On May 25, 1979, six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared on his way to school in New York City. The ensuing search for Etan focused national attention not only on the plight of a missing child but also on the profound need for additional resources and information to help locate and recover the hundreds of thousands of children reported missing each year.
On National Missing Children’s Day, we remember all of the children who are missing, along with the families who hope and grieve in their absence. Over the last four decades, dedicated parents, child advocates, and law enforcement have generated greater awareness about the need to act as quickly as possible when a child goes missing. As a Nation, we must build on this progress and strengthen our efforts to prevent child abductions and recover missing children.
Creative minds and technology have worked together over the years to develop increasingly sophisticated and efficient means of raising awareness and aiding the search for missing children. In 1984, faces of missing children like Etan Patz were printed on milk cartons found in homes throughout the country. Today’s efforts to help missing children are enhanced by access to online reporting platforms, cellphone-based alert systems, and other tools for keeping our children safe and for locating those who go missing. And since 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has worked with Federal, State, and local officials, along with private-sector partners, to provide resources and expertise in these efforts.
Last October, I proudly signed into law the Missing Children’s Assistance Act of 2018, which extended funding for NCMEC for an additional five years and will integrate more advanced technology and research into programs that protect children. With this support, NCMEC and its many public- and private-sector partners will continue to provide resources and services to assist in preventing child abductions, recovering missing children, and combating child exploitation.
On National Missing Children’s Day, we steel our resolve to continue the search for our Nation’s missing children and to protect all of our young people. We also pray for and stand with those families that are searching for a missing child. We will never give up hope that our missing children will be found and reunited with their loved ones, where they belong.