National Missing Children’s Day observed

MARQUETTE — “One of the most feared experiences in a parents life is the information that their child is missing,” said Jolene Hardesty from the Michigan Children’s Clearinghouse.

More than 4,400 missing persons are reported in the state of Michigan. One-third of them are children. Today is National Missing Children’s Day, serving as a reminder to parents and caregivers to prioritize child safety and reunite children with their families.

Since children are the future, it’s important for state and local authorities to collaborate with resources to bring this issue to public attention, Hardesty said.

The most common type of missing persons are runaways under the age of 18. These children flee homes where they are not getting their basic and psychological needs met, either from their families or foster care homes, Hardesty said.

“Children go missing for a reason and people need to start asking why,” Hardesty said.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that all cases be entered to the publicly accessible database National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, known as NamUs.gov, as well as the National Crime Information Center. This law will be in effect July 4.

The first action for parents is to call local law enforcement agency and report them missing to the NCIC, said Sarah Krebs, Det. Sgt. from the Michigan State Police Missing Persons Unit. When calling law enforcement, it’s important to provide the child’s name, date of birth, height, weight, and descriptions of unique identifiers, Krebs said.

Reporting unusual occurrences, such as three girls walking down the highway last winter, helps law enforcement locate missing persons, Krebs said.

“Just asking yourself if something looks right can save a life,” Hardesty said.

She also suggested taking pictures and videos to supplement the report.

Reaching out through social media as a part of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign has illustrated that people have the power to call the police when seeing a suspicious act, Hardesty said. The OK2SAY student safety program also allows anonymous texts to local law enforcement, and is a voice for children who are not being listened to, Hardesty added.

Children want to be cared for, and caring comes with the open discussion about situational awareness of their surroundings, Hardesty said.

For the national awareness day, the Rock One Sock Campaign encourages people to wear one sock to represent a missing child, share on social media, and donate to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

For more information on missing children, visit the NCMEC website under Get Help Now.

Isabelle Tavares can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 254.