SALEM - Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber joined child safety advocates around the country by signing a proclamation announcing May 25, 2012 as "Missing Children's Awareness Day" in Oregon.
To help raise child safety awareness during the month of May, families are encouraged to take 25 minutes to talk to their children about safety and abduction prevention as part of the Take 25 (www.Take25.org) national child safety campaign. A list of 25 safety tips for parents that can help save a child's life is included with this news release.
As of April 25, 2012, Oregon's Law Enforcement Data System (LEDS) records contained information regarding 464 kids under the age of 18 listed as missing in LEDS/NCIC of which about 90% are runaways. The remaining listed children are missing under circumstances indicating his/her physical safety may be in danger or their disappearance was not voluntary.
May 25 has been observed as National Missing Children's Day since it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. This date is the anniversary of the day in 1979 when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school; a story that captivated the nation then and again recently was the subject of national headlines as law enforcement continues searching for clues related to his disappearance.
Etan's photo, taken by his father, was circulated nationwide and appeared in media across the country and around the world. This powerful image has come to symbolize the anguish and trauma of thousands of searching families.
According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), every year in America, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, more than 2,000 children each day. Of that number, 200,000 are abducted by family members and 58,000 are abducted by non-family members, for which the primary motive is sexual. Each year, 115 children are the victims of the most serious abductions; they are taken by non-family members and either murdered, ransomed or taken with the intent to keep.
An analysis of attempted abduction cases by NCMEC found that in 81 percent of the cases, the child escaped would-be abductors through their own actions. Twenty-eight percent actively resisted (yelling, kicking, pulling away, running away or attracting attention) while 53% recognized something was not right and responded by walking or running away.
Julie Willard, program analyst for the Oregon State Police (OSP) Missing Children's Clearinghouse, emphasized the importance of teaching children about safety.
"We know teaching children about safety works, and their actions enable them to escape attempted abductions more than 80 percent of the time. It is important to take the time to talk to your children about safety." said Willard.
The safe recovery of a missing child is a time to celebrate. During the most serious incidents when a child is abducted, Oregon's AMBER Alert program is a critical missing child response program utilizing the resources of law enforcement and media to engage the public's help to find a child as quickly as possible. Information about Oregon's AMBER Alert program, including a link to sign up to receive wireless alerts, is available on the OSP website at http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/AMBERALERT/index.shtml.
Even though no similar reported incidents are known to have occurred in Oregon, OSP is warning the public not to be a victim of a scam in the name of AMBER Alert reported in other states including Montana, Kansas and Ohio.
In the scam, the phone rings and the caller claims they are soliciting funds in the name of AMBER Alert program. The caller asks for donations made by cash, credit card or check. OSP warns this is just an attempt to steal your money. The Oregon AMBER Alert program does not solicit money from the public.