Carrollton Leader > News
Missing: Child abductions make national headlines, hit close to home
Marthe Stinton, firstname.lastname@example.org
As recent developments unfold in the missing child case of Etan Patz, a six-year-old who disappeared 33 years ago walking to a school bus and became the first missing child photo on the backs of milk cartons across America, the county is reminded of a crime that takes place far too often.
Across America, thousands of parents are facing their worst nightmares as almost 800,000 children under 18 are reported missing every year, breaking down to nearly 2,185 children reported missing everyday. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 200,000 of these children were taken by family members and more than 58,000 were taken by nonfamily members.
Jon Stoval, public information officer for the city of Carrollton, said though city often receive reports that turn out to be false or civil matters, the most recent child abduction in Carrollton was in October 2011.
"Unfortunately the child was found dead," he said. "She was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death. When we have a missing child we initiate a critical missing response. We assign as many resources as possible until the situation is resolved. In the case of an abduction, our juvenile crimes detectives will initiate a response of the Child Abduction Response Team (CART). The CART team consists of a group of area local, state and federal law enforcement officers with special training and tools used to respond to child abductions."
Although the department would like for a child to always be supervised, there are instances that occur where the child is either left alone or is momentarily separated from their caregiver, Stoval said. Educating your child about the dangers of predators and abductions is one of the best methods for prevention.
"The scary thing for a parent is that there is no standard characteristic of a child predator," Stoval said. "Predators come in all races and from all socio-economic backgrounds. The only factor that abductions have in common is that they generally happen for either of two main reasons. The first is a result of a child custody dispute. The second type of abductions is those from a child sexual predator."
The Carrollton Police Department Crime Prevention Officers routinely give safety classes in schools where officers help to educate the students in areas such as Stranger-Danger and Internet-based predators, Stoval said. Because the summer holiday is fast approaching, there will not be another class until school is back in session in the fall.
"Stranger Danger is part of our curriculum throughout all levels of education as appropriate. Campuses also hold special presentations on safety," said Angela Shelley, public information officer for Carrollton ISD.
The FBI has created and utilizes regional Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams, which are designed to rapidly deploy experienced Crimes Against Children Unit investigators to provide investigative, technical, and resource assistance to state and local law enforcement during the most critical time period following a child abduction, according to its website.
Research has shown that the majority of children who are abducted and killed are murdered within several hours of the actual abduction, the site said. The rapid deployment of FBI resources during these critical hours after an abduction may enhance the odds of recovering the victim alive, preclude others from becoming victims, and facilitate the identification and arrest of the offender.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's annual report for 2010, the AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert program was created in 1996 and provides an early warning system to help find abducted children. Named in honor of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington and murdered, the AMBER Alert program is now in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Law enforcement utilizes the eyes and ears of the public to help quickly locate an abducted child by broadcasting AMBER Alerts on radio and television stations and highway signs. Used in only the most serious child-abduction cases, AMBER Alerts have helped rescue and reunite 538 children with their families.
Copyright © 2013 - Star Local News