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In 1983, then President Ronald Reagan declared May 25 as National Missing Children Day in memory of Etan Patz. On May, 25 1979, six year old Etan Patz disappeared while walking to the school bus stop two blocks from his home. Julie Patz, Etan’s mother, did not know that her child was missing until he did not make it home from school. When she called the school looking for Etan, she was informed that Etan never made it to school. Julie contacted the police to report her son missing. The local police sent more than 100 officers and dogs to search for Etan, however, even with this intense search was never found. Etan’s disappearance changed how the United States handled child abduction investigations. Thanks to Julie and Stanley (Etan’s father) Patz’s relentless and tenacious search efforts, Etan was one of the first missing child cases to coordinate a nationwide missing child campaign. Photographs and contact information were distributed on posters, newspapers, and television broadcasts and he was also the first missing child to have his picture shown on milk cartons. The family did get closure in 2017, when Pedro Hernandez, who worked at a store by the bus stop when Etan disappeared, was convicted of his kidnapping and murder.

Since 1983, the Department of Justice has conducted an annual ceremony honoring the heroic efforts of individuals, agencies and organizations that strive each day to protect children; 2021 nominees can be found at https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/events/missing-childrens-day/about-missing-childrens-day. This year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will host a weekly Hero Award video tribute to honor people who go above and beyond to help protect our nation’s most valuable resource – our children. For more information on National Missing Children’s Day or to view the tribute videos, please go to https://www.missingkids.org/supportus/events/2021/heroesawards.

Etan Patz and other high profile missing children’s cases in the late 1970s and the early 1980s led to the idea of “stranger danger.” As the years progressed many experts have agreed that the concentration on the danger of strangers has led to a false sense of security. True stranger abductions of children only represents a very small percentage of missing children. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children published an article titled Rethinking “Stranger Danger” on the KidSmartz webpage at https://www.kidsmartz.org/StrangerDanger. In the article are the following suggestions for a better way to educate children on today’s dangers:

DON’T SAY: Never talk to strangers.

SAY: You should not approach just anyone. If you need help, look for uniformed police officers, a store clerk with a name tag or a parent with children.

DON’T SAY: Stay away from people you don’t know.

SAY: It is important for you to get permission before going anywhere with anyone.

DON’T SAY: You can tell someone is bad just by looking at them.

SAY: Pay attention to what people do. Tell me right away if anyone asks you to keep a secret, makes you feel uncomfortable, or tries to get you to go with them.

Along with the above talking points, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Kid Smartz page also has a list of common lure tricks, here are a few:

The “bad child” trick: Someone accuses the child of doing something wrong and says the child must go with him or her.

Beat it: Teach your child to always check with you or the adult in charge before going anywhere with anyone. Instruct children to immediately tell you if someone approaches them or tries to take them away.

The “help” trick: The child is asked to help with something such as directions, looking for a lost pet or carrying something

Beat it: Adults should ask other adults for help, not children. Have your child practice saying “I can’t help you” in a firm voice. Teach children to stand at least one to two arms’ lengths away while interacting with unknown adults.

The “flattery/model” trick: Someone compliments the child and asks to take his or her picture. The person may promise the child fame or fortune.

Beat it: Instruct your child not to accompany anyone anywhere without your permission. Teach older children that a legitimate photographer or casting agent will try to talk to a parent or guardian, not a child.

If anyone would like more information about child safety, please visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s different educational web pages at https://www.kidsmartz.org, https://www.missingkids.org and https://www.missingkids.org/netsmartz. Also, if anyone has questions about Sault Tribe’s sex offender registration and notification requirements, please contact Latisha Willette at 906‑635‑6065 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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