Observed annually, National Missing Children’s Day has been commemorated each year on May 25th since 1983, when it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan.
- Six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from his New York City home on his way from the bus to school on May 25, 1979. May 25, the date of Etan’s disappearance, was designated as National Missing Children’s Day.
- During the time of Etan’s disappearance, cases of missing children rarely gained national media attention. It took 33 years for a suspect to be arrested for Etan’s disappearance.
- More than a decade after National Missing Children’s Day was designated by Reagan, the International Center for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and the U.S.’s National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN) launched a joint venture in 1998 to mark May 25 as the International Missing Children’s Day.
- Approximately 800,000 kids are reported missing each year in this country, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
- In 1932, the FBI was given jurisdiction under the “Lindbergh Law” to immediately investigate any reported mysterious disappearance or kidnapping involving a child of “tender age”—usually 12 or younger. However, the FBI can become involved with any missing child under the age of 18 as an assisting agency to the local police department.
- In 1984, John and Revé Walsh and other child advocates founded the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as a private, non-profit organization to serve as the national clearinghouse and resource center for information about missing and exploited children.
- Unfortunately, since many children are never reported missing, there is no reliable way to determine the total number of children who are actually missing in the U.S.
- When a child is reported missing to law enforcement, federal law requires that child be entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, also known as NCIC.
- It is estimated that 1,300 children go missing every day in the United States.
- An estimated 203,900 children were victims of a family abduction in 1999.
- An estimated 58,200 children were victims of a non-family abduction in 1999.
- Nearly half of all victims were sexually assaulted
- Over 1.5 million children had a runaway or thrown away episode in 1999
- 21% are physically or sexually abused at home
- According to the FBI, in 2020 there were 365,348 NCIC entries for missing children.
- In 2019, the total number of missing children entries into NCIC was 421,394.
- Only 1 out of every 10,000 missing children reported to the police is the victim of murder.
- In 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that a child goes missing every 40 seconds in the United States.
- Per the NCMEC’s 2020 database of missing children cases, the top five states in the U.S. with the most missing children are as follows:
- Texas (3,588)
- New York (2,502)
- Florida (2,197)
- Ohio (2,259)
- California (1,828)
- Washington (1,585)
- More children still are reported missing in the United States than in many other countries
For more information and awareness on National Missing Children’s Day visit the following links:
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
The Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children