Keeping Our Children Safe in an Unsafe World
In October 2003 (which marked the ten-year anniversary of Polly’s abduction), The KlaasKids Foundation opened up the KlaasKids Search Center. Located in Pensacola, Florida, this center, led by National Search Director Brad Dennis, a retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the United States Navy, helps provide assistance to families in the search for their abducted child. “The Search Center provides search management services to families of abducted children. We assist the families and their communities in the establishment of a volunteer search center, train volunteers on how to conduct a search, and create liaisons with law enforcement for the recovery of the missing child,” states Mr. Dennis, who will travel “…anywhere in the country to assist families, and our services are free of charge.”
On July 29, 1994 a seven-year-old girl from New Jersey named Megan Kanka was lured into her neighbor’s home with the promise of getting a puppy, was raped and murdered by a two-time convicted sex offender. The passage of a law signed by then Governor Christine Todd Whitman led to the May 1996 passage of a federal law also known as Megan’s Law. Parents for Megan’s Law is a non profit organization based in Stony Brook, New York, that is dedicated to the prevention of childhood sexual abuse through education, policy, and legislative support services on a national level. Parents and the community can also find information and links to state sex offender registries.
Lastly, one of the most important things parents and the community need to remember is to research the voting record and commitments of your state and local representative. Mr. Klaas agrees that we have the power to create change by, “finding out the stance of your current representatives on Megan’s Law and/or a Victim’s Rights Amendment to the Constitution. If you don’t like their opinion on these issues, then make your opinion known come election time.”
What To Do If Your Child Is Missing
- Immediately call 911 and all other local law enforcement agencies.
- If you suspect stranger abduction, notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). FBI resources are unsurpassed in law enforcement.
- Notify all local media assignment desks. Work with the media–keep in mind that the general public’s awareness about your missing child could be expedited by the broadcasting of details.
- Notify your local nonprofit child locator agency. They can log your child’s image and pertinent information on the Internet, thereby guaranteeing instantaneous worldwide distribution. Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
- Keep you home phone staffed and record conversations. This may be the only way your child knows how to reach you.
- Find a printer. Volunteers will help you to post flyers in highly visible areas.
- Your best chance of recovery is to encourage a massive coordinated response effort by law enforcement, media, your child-find agency, and volunteers.
- Take care to preserve your physical well-being. Seek emotional and psychological support from your church or social service agencies. Remember, you alone are leading the battle for the return of your missing child.
- Remember, Never Give Up Hope!
(Reprinted with permission from Marc Klaas and the KlaasKids Foundation. Copyright 1994.)
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