May | June 2012

Justice Department Honors Law Enforcement Professionals and Private Citizens at National Missing Children's Day Ceremony

2012 Missing Children's Day poster.
2012 Missing Children's Day poster.
At the annual National Missing Children's Day ceremony held on May 23, 2012, in Washington, DC, the U.S. Department of Justice recognized the outstanding efforts of law enforcement personnel and private citizens who have made a difference in recovering abducted children and protecting children from exploitation.

Speakers at the event included Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary, OJJDP Acting Administrator Melodee Hanes, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Ernie Allen, and Yvonne Pointer, a child and community safety activist whose 14-year-old daughter, Gloria, was abducted and killed in 1984.

In 1983, President Reagan proclaimed May 25 as National Missing Children's Day in honor of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979 during a two-block walk to his school bus stop in lower Manhattan. Since then, citizens, public agencies, and private organizations have gathered in communities across the country to commemorate the day by renewing their commitment to find missing children and celebrate stories of recovery.

"There is no rest for a parent who has lost a child, and there should be no rest for any of us who are in a position to help," said Deputy Attorney General Cole. "There may not be any words we could offer that would ease their pain, but we can offer our support—and we must use all the tools at our disposal to help families of missing and exploited children."

Photo of Yvonne Pointer, the mother of an abducted child.
Yvonne Pointer, a child and community safety activist whose 14-year-old daughter, Gloria, was abducted and killed in 1984, offered remarks at the National Missing Children's Day ceremony. "Service to others saved my life, providing me with a reason to live," she said.

Deputy Attorney General Cole presented awards to the following individuals for their extraordinary efforts to help abducted and/or exploited children:

At the ceremony, Acting Administrator Hanes announced
the release of three new OJJDP publications—

  • AMBER Alert Best Practices describes effective and efficient strategies for recovering abducted children, based on information from experienced AMBER Alert partners in law enforcement, the broadcast and wireless industry, transportation agencies, and the community.
  • ¿Y yo? Cómo sobrellevar el secuestro de un hermano o una hermana, the Spanish translation of What About Me? Coping With the Abduction of a Brother or Sister, contains information to help and support a child when his or her sibling is kidnapped. It also includes activity pages for children of all ages, including those who are too young to read.
  • No estás solo: El camino del secuestro al empoderamiento, the Spanish translation of You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment, presents several stories of child abduction survivors and how they have grown and developed from their traumatic experiences. It provides information to help other child abduction survivors cope with their own experiences and begin their journeys toward a better future.

For more information about these publications, see the New Publications section in this issue of OJJDP News @ a Glance.

Each year, OJJDP conducts a National Missing Children's Day poster contest. The winning poster is used as the design theme for the following year. This year, 5th graders in 41 states and the District of Columbia participated in the competition. Elisa Martinez, a student at Walter V. Long Elementary School, Las Vegas, NV, accepted the 2012 National Missing Children's Day Art Contest Award.

Vocalist Darren Jones sang the national anthem. The event began and concluded with performances by the Benjamin Orr Elementary School Choir of Washington, DC. The Office of Justice Programs has had a relationship with the Orr School since 1991 as part of the Justice Department's volunteer outreach program.

photo of Melodee Hanes announcing new OJJDP publications.
Acting Administrator Melodee Hanes announced the release of OJJDP's three new child abduction resource publications on National Missing Children's Day.
Photo of Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole
Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole offering a keynote address at the National Missing Children’s Day ceremony. “It is a real privilege to be here today, in the presence of so many advocates and law enforcement professionals who work—day in and day out—to secure the safety of one of our most vulnerable populations, our young people,” Cole said.

Resources:

To access additional resources for parents of missing and abducted children, go to the OJJDP Web site. Also visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's "Take 25" Web site, which encourages parents, guardians, educators, and other caring adults to take 25 minutes to talk to children about safety. Information about the Office of Justice Programs' AMBER Alert Program is also available online.

In recognition of National Missing Children's Day, the Office of Justice Programs' National Criminal Justice Reference Service has created a special feature, Missing Kids, which provides critical AMBER Alert information as well as access to resources for families and law enforcement.

A blog about National Missing Children's Day by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary is available on the U.S. Department of Justice Web site.