May 16, 2013
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext 247
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(Left to right: Stepfather Moddie Sesson; Zion Brooks; and, Mother Lisha Melifeng)
Governor Kitzhaber's Letter & Proclamation
Governor Kitzhaber joins child safety advocates around the country by signing proclamation announcing May 25, 2013 as "Missing Children's Awareness Day" in Oregon
A 5th grader at Milwaukie's Linwood Elementary School received a surprise today when the Oregon State Police (OSP) Missing Children's Clearinghouse announced her poster was selected to represent Oregon in the national Missing Children's Day Poster Contest. In addition to a pizza party held for her and about 20 classmates, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber sent a letter that was read congratulating her on the winning poster and for helping to raise awareness about child safety.
On May 16, 2013, OSP Missing Children's Clearinghouse Program Analyst Julie Willard announced that ZION BROOKS' winning poster was selected to represent Oregon and had been sent to the Department of Justice for national judging and selection with posters submitted from around the country. The Missing Children's Day Poster Contest is an annual event for fifth grade students providing an opportunity for schools, law enforcement, and other community organizations to engage children and their parents in discussions about child safety.
During the presentation, a letter from Governor John Kitzhaber was read to her class commending Zion for her winning entry and involvement with local communities in being part of the solution to keep kids safe.
"Oregon is proud that you'll be representing our state and we wish you the best of luck," wrote Kitzhaber.
Governor Kitzhaber also joined child safety advocates around the country by signing a proclamation announcing May 25, 2013 as "Missing Children's Awareness Day" in Oregon. During the month of May, families around the country are encouraged to take 25 minutes to talk to their children about safety and abduction prevention as part of the Take 25 (www.Take25.org) national child safety campaign. A list of 25 safety tips for parents that can help save a child's life is included with this news release.
May 25 has been observed as National Missing Children's Day since it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. This date is the anniversary of the day in 1979 when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school; a story that captivated the nation. Etan's photo, taken by his father, was circulated nationwide and appeared in media across the country and around the world. This powerful image has come to symbolize the anguish and trauma of thousands of searching families.
As of April 2013, Oregon's Law Enforcement Data System (LEDS) records contained information regarding 401 kids under the age of 18 listed as missing in LEDS/NCIC. About 90% of the listed missing children are runaways.
The remaining listed children are missing under circumstances indicating his/her physical safety may be in danger or their disappearance was not voluntary.
According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), every year in America, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, more than 2,000 children each day. Of that number, 200,000 are abducted by family members and 58,000 are abducted by non-family members, for which the primary motive is sexual. Each year, 115 children are the victims of the most serious abductions; they are taken by non-family members and either murdered, ransomed or taken with the intent to keep.
An analysis of attempted abduction cases by NCMEC found that in 81 percent of the cases, the child escaped would-be abductors through their own actions. Twenty-eight percent actively resisted (yelling, kicking, pulling away, running away or attracting attention) while 53% recognized something was not right and responded by walking or running away.
"Spend time with your kids, set appropriate limits, and help them make good choices. It is important to take the time to talk to your children about safety." said Willard.
Fortunately last month, two reports of children missing in Molalla and Gresham just days apart ended with both being found safe. During the most serious incidents when a child is abducted, Oregon's AMBER Alert program is a critical missing child response program utilizing the resources of law enforcement and media to engage the public's help to find a child as quickly as possible. Information about Oregon's AMBER Alert program is available on the OSP website at http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/AMBERALERT/index.shtml.
Several months ago, the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) Program replaced the Wireless AMBER Alert Program to help distribute AMBER Alerts throughout the country. Also known as Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) or Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN), WEA is a national emergency alert system that sends text-like messages to users' WEA-capable mobile devices. The program may send out cellphone alerts in the form of sounds and beeps when an AMBER Alert is issued in an area of activated cell towers. Oregon's first WEA use occurred in January 2013 when a 5-year old boy was abducted in The Dalles and recovered safe about an hour after the AMBER Alert activation.
The Missing Children's Day Poster Contest is promoted in Oregon by the OSP Missing Children's Clearinghouse. Fifth grade teachers interested in participating in next year's contest can contact Julie Willard at (503) 934-0188 or Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view last year's winning entries submitted from 41 states and the District of Columbia among the thousands entered by fifth graders across the country: