Online Staff Report
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Police joined people throughout Illinois today to celebrate the progress made in safeguarding children and those missing children who found their way safely home. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) also signed a proclamation declaring May 25th Missing Children’s Day in Illinois.
May 25 is the anniversary of the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz from a New York street corner while 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 since that time. In the past year, Illinois has reduced the number of reported missing children by more than 2 percent. Of the 31,453 children reported missing in 2010, roughly 98 percent were quickly located and returned safely home.
“As we continue our efforts to find children who are missing in our state, we must also remember those who are gone or have been victimized,” said Governor Quinn. “I encourage everyone in our state to take 25 minutes today to talk to the children in their lives about how to stay safe.”
Take 25 is a preventive child safety campaign created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in honor of National Missing Children’s Day. To learn more, visit www.take25.org.
“Public awareness initiatives focused towards increased child safety have done much to educate parents about the actions they can take in order to prevent crimes against their children,” said Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau. “Implementing child safety measures and preventing these criminal actions from ever occurring can make all the difference in the life of a child. Today, let’s not forget those children who have been the unfortunate victims of crime.”
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 Gov. Quinn’s proclamation is as follows:
WHEREAS, The Missing Children Act of 1982 was the first federal law to address this issue, and in 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Missing Children’s Day; and
WHEREAS, May 25 has annually been declared National Missing Children’s Day; and
WHEREAS, there are 1,511 pending missing children under the age of 18 in the state of Illinois, which represents only a small percentage of children that are estimated to be missing nationwide as reported through a national study conducted by the United States Department of Justice; 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 city, town, village, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies 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 37 Illinois missing children; 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, 2011 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 all missing children throughout the country.