And that is just what The Santa Project wants all of us to do.
“We need you to join us in raising your voice to bring home missing children and prevent other children from being harmed,” said Pete Vanderpool, executive director.
This message came through loud and clear at the recent joint conference of NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) and AMECO (Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organizations) in Washington, D.C., attended by Pete and Joyce Vander-pool of The Santa Project.
A child disappearing is every parent’s worst nightmare, but it’s a subject no one wants to talk about. AMECO has challenged us all to break the silence and make noise for missing and exploited children.
“We can’t be quiet about child safety. It is imperative that we all talk about this issue. We can take action to protect our children and engage in ways to bring missing children home,” says Wendy Jolley-Kabi, AMECO’s executive director.
As an international association of nonprofit organizations, AMECO provides a collective voice on issues related to missing and exploited children and their families, and nurtures credible, ethical, and effective nonprofit member organizations.
AMECO is comprised of nonprofit missing and exploited children’s organizations that assist in the prevention, recovery and reintegration of missing children and the prevention of child exploitation. Pete Vanderpool is a member of the board of this international organization.
During the Washington conference, Melinda Stevens, ncmec director of Missing Children Division, presented the statistics showing that approximately 800,000 children are reported missing each year. That’s 2,000 children per day. Of that, 200,000 are family abductions (non-custodial parents or other relative), but about 58,000 are nonfamily abductions (strangers or online acquaintances).
Startling figures show that of all abductions, 38 percent occur while a child is walking alone to or from school, riding the school bus or riding a bicycle; 37 percent of attempted abductions occur between the hours of 2:00 pm through 7 p.m. on a weekday; 72 percent of the victims are female; 68 percent of attempted abductions involve the suspect driving a vehicle.
The good news is that of the confirmed incidents, 31 percent reported some type of reaction such as yelling, kicking, pulling away, or otherwise attracting attention resulted in escape; 53 percent walked or ran away from the suspect and had no physical contact; 10 percent involved either a Good Samaritan or parent becoming involved to rescue the child. Unfortunately that leaves 6 percent “where the outcome was an abduction resulting in physical or emotion damage, if not worse.
The Make Noise for Missing and Exploited Children was conceived and started by the parents of children who were abducted and in some cases never returned.
They ask that you join them in raising your voice to bring home missing children and prevent other children being harmed. These three points are critical to the Make Noise Project:
n TALK to your kids about safety.
n If you have been abused, exploited or hurt in some way, TELL someone you trust.
n SHARE messages about missing children to get everyone in your network involved in the issue.
Kristen Anderson, NCMEC executive director of Training and Outreach, made it very clear that the only way we can address the subject of child exploitation is through communication with our respective communities. Everyone needs to know what to do to protect our children, from educating them in safety practices to knowing how to react to a suspected abuse or kidnapping situation.
To find out how you can help, visit http://www.amecoinc.org/ and click on “Make Noise” under the “How You Can Help” section.
Pete Vanderpool said, “Everyone needs to Make Noise for our kids. Make Noise so the subject of child abuse and exploitation isn’t ignored as something that can’t happen in our community. It can, and it does. So MAKE NOISE for our kids.”
If you need more information about how to do so, contact Pete or Joyce Vanderpool of The Santa Project, santa@thesanta project.org, 423-614-3379.
Arrange for a program to be brought to your school, church, or civic organization.