Today is National Missing Children’s Day.
Every mother’s fear. A child will get out of site for just a moment and be taken. It is that easy. And unfortunately happens more than it should. And not just to little children, but teenage children too!
National Missing Children’s Day falls on May 25 every year. On this date in 1979, six-year-old New Yorker Ethan Patz disappeared on his way to school. Although he was never found, he was legally declared dead in 2001. Because his case and a rash of other abductions received a large amount of media attention, Ethan’s disappearance ultimately lead to the formation of the missing children’s movement with a proclamation by U.S. president Ronald Reagan.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children annually holds events on and around National Missing Children’s Day to raise awareness of the threat of child abduction, inform families about ways to keep their children safe and support victims’ families. They also have an initiative, “Take 25,” to encourage parents, guardians and educators to take 25 minutes to talk to children about safety.
You may be wondering why I chose to talk about this. There are two reasons.
The first is obvious. I’m a mom and child abduction is always in the back of my mind. We go to the park and I’m scanning people before we even get out to the car. Not that all evil people “look” a specific way. No. They don’t. As a matter of fact I think the devil is likely very attractive. Beautiful even. All better to fool us. Right?!
Second. Because there has been a missing girl weighing on my heart for many years. Her name is Madeline Teresa Ponds and she goes by “Midge.”
I was only 11 years old when Midge Ponds disappeared. Too young to really understand all the conversations. Too young to truly process the anguish her parents and friends must have been feeling. Too young to even really help in any kind of way. But not too young to see the fear in my parents’ and my friends’ eyes.
To have someone you know disappear. Just literally vanish…
Midge and I rode the same school bus. She was 17, six years older than me. My brother and Midge were much closer in age and friends. He actually spoke with her less than three hours before she was kidnapped. And although I didn’t know her well, I do remember her being a nice person, even to us little kids. My brother always said she was the kind of girl that everyone liked. No enemies in the world.
As for the story of how it happened, this is an excerpt from her missing children’s poster. “Ponds was last seen working alone at her job at PJ’s One-Stop, a convenience store on southbound Highway 82 in Columbus, Mississippi on November 20, 1986. Her mother brought her some dinner, then returned to their residence. Less than five minutes later, a customer discovered that the store was unattended and contacted authorities. Approximately $600 was missing from the cash register. Midge’s personal belongings were still inside the business and her car was parked in the store’s lot with her purse, wallet, keys and hairbrush. She has never been heard from again. Midge’s mother says it is uncharacteristic of her to leave without taking her things or telling someone where she was going. She believes her daughter was abducted and says her daughter would not have gone without a fight.”
And now, fast-forward 26 years later. Midge is still missing. And I still think of her every time I see an Amber Alert, hear of an abduction or watch a news broadcast where some woman is found alive after years of being held captive (e.g., the three woman recently rescued in Cleveland, Ohio after more than 10-years.)
I pray for her family and peace for her. AND, I pray that whomever was responsible answers to the authorities now and most certainly God later. If you have any information on Midge’s disappearance, or you suspect any child is in danger, call 1-800-The-Lost.
What can you do?
- Mothers/Fathers/Grandparents – Talk to your children. No matter if they’re six or 16. And use the Take 25 resources to help you.
- Teachers, Troop Leaders, Coaches, Church Leader – Host an event. Take 25 can help with resources for fingerprinting, pictures and conversation points.
- Blogger or other site owners – Show the animated rotating missing kids banner. They only have two sizes right now and unfortunately neither fit my blog design, but I’m adding it to this post so you can see it in action. You can review sizes and get code on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website. And hopefully soon they’ll have regular Google ad sizes available. I’m asking!
- Suspect abuse – tell someone! You can report online at www.cybertipline.com or call 1-800-The-Lost
From one mom to another, spread the word, talk to your kids, remember the missing and let’s help keep our babies safe!
Top image photography credit: istock