May 25th: International Missing Children’s Day


By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Have you seen this Youtube clip, which has recently gone viral?


Etan Patz

I thought it was a good one to embed here as I begin a post for International Missing Children’s Day, which is on 25th May.  Parents and carers should be aware that our kids love things such as puppies– they must be told NEVER to go with anyone (puppy, kitten or no) unless their parents agree.

International Missing Children’s Day is celebrated on May 25, the same day as the United States’ National Missing Children’s Day designated by Ronald Reagan in 1983.  On May 25th, 1979 Etan Patz (6) disappeared from a street corner in his New York neighbourhood while he was walking to school.  A photo of Etan, taken by his professional photographer father, generated national and international media attention and became a symbol of the missing children movement.  International Missing Children’s Day is now directed by the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN).

Just hearing Etan’s story makes shivers run down my spine.  He is the same age as my only brother: how must his family feel, never having known what happened to him or whether he is still alive out there somewhere?  I have a six year old son of my own– it’s every parent’s worst nightmare to imagine their child suddenly “vanishing”: the hole it must create and the anxiety mixed with uncertainty and hope are unfathomable.

etan-patzThe GMCN (Global Missing Children’s Networ) is a group of countries which connect, share best practices, and disseminate information and images of missing children to improve the effectiveness of missing children investigations.  The GMCN was launched in 1998 as a joint venture of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and the US’s National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).  The Network has 22 member countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the US. [Source: Wikipedia].

It is estimated 8 million children are reported missing each year around the world– that’s twice the population of impactAotearoa/ New Zealand!  Ernie Allen, President and CEO of ICMEC, speaking on last year’s International Missing Children’s Day, said: “Every child deserves a safe childhood.  It is essential that governments around the world make a commitment to locate and recover missing children. They need to ensure rapid response to missing child cases and provide law enforcement with the resources and training they need for handling missing child cases” [Source:].
When I think of missing children, names like Madeline McCann come to mind and, of course, the abducted Nigerian school girls.  We hear the stories, see the faces on the news, and silently thank God that our own children are safe.

e7edc5cab21d06e506a7b2f634da7a8fEvery year on May 25, GMCN members pay respects to International Missing Children’s Day, honoring missing and abducted children, celebrating those who have been recovered, and, at the same time, spotlighting the issue of child abduction around the world and suggesting  steps parents and carers can take to protect their children.  The day  encourages everyone to think about children who remain missing and to spread a message of hope by releasing balloon. It celebrates the missing children who have found their way home and remembers those who have been victims of crime around the world.

Making our kids aware that children do go missing, all around the world and that we have an “International Missing Children’s Day,” and perhaps saying a prayer and releasing a balloon in honour of all the missing children– and to celebrate those who are no longer “missing” is a good start.  Unfortunately, this includes an awareness that not all adults are well-intentioned towards children, from which follows discussions about “stranger danger” (although not all abductors are necessarily strangers) and body safety awareness.  International Missing Children’s Day is a great opportunity to discuss such issues with our children, as well as to raise an awareness, around the globe, of children who are currently still “missing”.


Little Bowden Primary school children (in the UK) release balloons during International Missing Children’s Day. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001377-90)

The following is a link to pictures of and information about children who are currently classified as “missing”, around the world.   Sometimes abductors take children to other countries, so any possible sightings of these children anywhere should be reported immediately.  We pray for their safe return.


Other Related Links:




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