SPRINGFIELD, IL – Governor Pat Quinn, along with the Illinois State Police and Department of Children and Family Services, joined families throughout Illinois in observing May 25 as Missing Children’s Day in Illinois. The day provides an opportunity to recognize the progress Illinois has made in safeguarding children and to celebrate the return of those missing children who have found their way home. It is also a time to remember those who were less fortunate or have been victimized, and to find those that are still missing.
“Our children now more than ever need our commitment to ensure their safety,” said Governor Quinn. “Stranger abduction cases capture the most attention in the media, but are sadly a very small percentage of the overall issue. Physical and psychological violence and abuse, family abduction, molestation, and sexual exploitation are all overwhelming. I urge all parents to learn more about how they can help in protecting children and in reuniting missing children with their families.”
May 25 is the anniversary of when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school in 1979. President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed National Missing Children’s Day in 1983, and it has continued to be a day of observance ever since. In the past year, Illinois has reduced the number of reported missing children by more than ten percent. Of the 35,496 reported missing in 2008, roughly 95 percent were quickly located and returned safely home.
“Our hearts go out to the parents and families of our missing children,” said Illinois State Police Director Jonathan Monken. “The State Police will continue to work diligently with our communities, law enforcement, and legislative partners to bring our missing children home and protect our youth from harm.”
"The risk of harm to missing children and youth deserves our unwavering attention," said DCFS Director Erwin McEwen. "We are grateful for the support provided by law enforcement across Illinois as we work together to keep kids safe."
Illinois, in a partnership with Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Ohio, is active in the Interstate Agreement on Missing and Exploited Children. The agreement was established in 1985 as a network to improve identifying and recovering missing children. The Council is comprised of representatives of state law enforcement and criminal justice agencies from each of these states and meets semi-annually.
In observance of Missing Children’s Day in Illinois, citizens are encouraged to take part by turning on porch lights and vehicle headlights to “Light the Way Home” for our missing children.
The text of the Governor’s Proclamation is as follows:
WHEREAS, there are 2,102 pending missing children under the age of 18 in the State of Illinois, which represents only a small percentage of the children that are estimated to be missing nationwide as reported through a national study conducted by the United States Department of Justice; and
WHEREAS, there are four different categories that classify missing children. The largest number of missing children are runaways, followed by those that have been abducted by family members, those that are lost, injured, or otherwise missing, and the smallest category, but the one in which the child is at the greatest risk of injury or death, are those that have been abducted by non-family members; and
WHEREAS, locating and safely returning missing children to their homes is a statewide, national, and international objective; and
WHEREAS, on August 29, 1985 in Chicago, Illinois, Governors from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin signed the “Interstate Agreement on Missing and Exploited Children,” and since then, the states of Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska have also joined in the initiative. This agreement was the beginning of the development of an interstate network established to improve the process of identifying and recovering missing children in our communities; and
WHEREAS, in 2002, the Illinois State Police implemented the America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alert Notification Plan. AMBER Alert was developed as a quick and efficient way to notify the public and any city, town, village, county, or state law enforcement agency in Illinois, of specific information regarding the abduction of a child whose life may be in danger. To date, AMBER Alert has been instrumental in recovering 26 missing children; and
WHEREAS, inappropriate use of the Internet can expose our children to significant dangers, 53 Illinois State Police officers, certified to conduct NetSmartz workshops, have taught over 20,000 students, teachers, and parents how to stay safer on the Internet; and
WHEREAS, teaching your children to run away from danger, never letting your children go places alone, knowing where and with whom your children are at all times, talking openly with your children about safety and having a list of family members who can be contacted in case of an emergency, are among the list of preventative tips that will help keep your children safe from kidnapping and abductions:
THEREFORE, I, Pat Quinn, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim May 25, 2009, as MISSING CHILDREN’S DAY in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to observe this day by turning on porch lights and vehicle headlights to “LIGHT THE WAY HOME” for our missing children throughout the country.