Digital First: National Missing Children’s Day


(Credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 as National Missing Children’s Day in memory of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who disappeared from a New York City street corner on May 25, 1979. This day shines a spotlight on child safety and honors the professionals dedicated to protecting children around the country. Each year, the Department of Justice leads the nation in observing National Missing Children’s Day.

On May 25, 2021, the Department plans to announce the winners of the 2021 National Missing Children’s Day awards. The recipients were recognized for their extraordinary efforts to find missing children, protect children from harm, and bring perpetrators to justice in the following award categories:

  • Attorney General’s Special Commendation
  • Missing Children’s Child Protection Award
  • Missing Children’s Citizen Award
  • Missing Children’s Law Enforcement Award


National Missing Children’s Day on May 25th each year shines a spotlight on child safety. The observance also honors the professionals dedicated to protecting children around the country.

Most children who go missing do come home. Whether they’ve wandered off or there was a misunderstanding, many find their way back to their family. According to the Polly Klaas Foundation, 99.8 percent come home. Of those who are abducted, 9 percent are kidnapped by family. Only a small fraction are stranger abductions. But the fact remains, if it happens to any child, it happens to too many.

While the observance honors those who’ve gone above and beyond to protect children, it also offers resources to continue protecting them further. Here are ways to keep your children safe every day.

It’s important to:

  • maintain custody documents
  • keep recent photos of children handy
  • also, keep medical and dental records up to date

Protect your children by:

  • making online safety a priority
  • complete background checks on caregivers and check references
  • never leave young children unattended in strollers and car seats
  • whenever possible, don’t dress children in clothing with their names on it
  • teach them their address and phone number as young as possible

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