By: Ashley Tillery

HOUSTON — According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 800,000 children go missing each year in the United States. During his presidency in 1983, former President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 as National Missing Children’s Day.

On May 25, 1979, Etan Kalil Patz, 6, was abducted on the way to his school bus in Manhattan, New York. Etan’s disappearance launched the missing children movement and caused new methods to find missing children. Etan was the first missing child to have a photo appear on a milk carton.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Polly Klaas Foundation and Safe to Compete are well-known organizations that provide services to help find missing children. Individuals can help find missing children and support the families by staying informed, reporting what they know and spreading the word.

If you have a missing child or have seen one, call 911 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or 1800-843-5678.

NCMEC says to follow these steps if a child is missing:

1. Immediately call your local law enforcement agency. Provide the child’s name, age, date of birth, height, weight, and unique descriptions.

2. After, call 1800-THE-LOST or 1800-843-5678. The NCMEC specialist will record information about the missing child. They will create posters and other investigative methods, communicate with federal agencies to provide services and assistance, and provide peer support and resources.

3. Search through:

  • Closets
  • Piles of laundry
  • In and under beds
  • Inside large appliances
  • Vehicles- including trunks
  • Anywhere else that a child may crawl or hideFor more information about The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and what you can do to help find a missing child, visit
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