Six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared on May 25, 1979, while he was on his way to school in New York City. After being reported missing by his mother and an intensive search with more than 100 police officers and bloodhounds, he was never found. Etan's disappearance, along with others in the years that followed, promoted national attention and led to the creation of National Missing Children's Day by President Ronald Reagan. This day serves as a difficult reminder that there are thousands of children still missing and provides an opportunity to generate new attention for them and hopefully garner new leads in their case.
Every year thousands of children disappear from their homes and communities. According to the Arizona Department of Safety's Missing Children Database, there are currently 1,406 active cases of children missing in Arizona. While children go missing in various circumstances, typically, most of these cases involve a child abducted by a family member, with fewer cases involving children that a non-relative or stranger abducts. As a result, we've learned it's more effective to talk to kids about their safety as a whole versus just focusing on "stranger danger".
Education and open communication are essential to keeping children safe. As a parent, you must prioritize talking to your kids about their safety as frequently as you can, but especially during transitional periods of the year, such as the start of summer break. Please take 25 minutes today to talk to them and review the Check First Rules and Scenarios.
If your child goes missing, understand that time is of the essence, and you should contact law enforcement immediately. Approximately 47% of recovered children happen within 3 hours, and 94% are found within 72 hours. Make sure you have a recent photo of your child along with their full name, date of birth, height, weight, and describe unique identifiers such as glasses or clothing. Also, request that your child's information be included in the FBI's National Crime Information Center Missing Person File.
In addition to law enforcement, make sure you also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678. Use this guide to learn what additional steps to take if your child has gone missing, visit missingkids.org to learn more.
Visit our child safety page for more information and safety tips to keep your family safe.
Finding missing children is the first step towards achieving justice for them. Help the search and see what children are missing in your area.
Search for Missing Children
In Arizona: Arizona Department of Public Safety
In the U.S.: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children