A Child is MissingToday’s world is no longer the sort of world, however, where kids can necessarily play safely outdoors unsupervised after dark or even walk the city streets or country roads alone. Today, a child goes missing every 40 seconds in the United States.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
By now, schools everywhere are in full swing. The streets are filled with laughing, chatting children every morning and afternoon as they walk or ride to and from school, congregate on sidewalks or play on the playground. Today’s world is no longer the sort of world, however, where kids can necessarily play safely outdoors unsupervised after dark or even walk the city streets or country roads alone. Today, a child goes missing every 40 seconds in the United States. Some are abducted, others get lost, and still others run away from home. That’s the stark reality of it all.
No one is more aware of the hidden dangers lurking out there for some children than our legal authorities. They see the “Missing Child” posters on a regular basis, and they know that while the incidence of missing children in Carlton County has not been high, it is nonetheless devastating when it occurs.
Few who were around at the time of the 1998 abduction of Barnum teen Katie Poirier from a Moose Lake convenience store will ever forget the terrible circumstances surrounding it. Those same people will likely recall the 1996 abduction of Two Harbors teen Paul Antonich and the subsequent discovery of his body in the trunk of a car in the Ditchbanks area west of Cloquet.
One has to wonder if a system such as AMBER Alert or Carlton County’s brand, new “A Child is Missing” alert program had been in place at those times, perhaps authorities could have closed in on them in time to save these innocent young people.
We are fortunate, indeed, that today’s law enforcement community has newer and better tools to react almost instantly to reports of child abductions, missing children or the disappearance of vulnerable adults. Last weekend, they had a chance to test them out in real time when the report of a missing 13-year-old girl came in. Cloquet Police activated the “A Child is Missing” network, alerting people who lived in the vicinity of where the girl lived by way of a series of automated phone messages. Thankfully, the girl turned up safe and sound and all was well. It was a good initial test of the program and how it works, and it proved to be a valuable example of how friends and neighbors working together with law enforcement can lead to the fastest and most favorable outcomes.
Best of all, the new alert program is free of charge to the agencies using it so their already-limited resources can be expended in terms of manpower to conduct the searches. That’s a bargain at any rate.