April 18th, the Association of Missing and Exploited Children Organization (AMECO) launched the “Make Noise” campaign.
Introducing the speakers who would be addressing the combined audience of law enforcement and non-government organization representatives, Wendy Jolley-Kabi described a conversation with Patty Wetterling, mother of Jacob Wetterling (missing since 1989). Wetterling reportedly requested that there not be a “moment of silence” for the missing, but instead that we make noise for the missing and exploited children.
As a charter member of AMECO, Missing Children Minnesota wholeheartedly agrees that we need to make some noise. The time has come to put the issue of missing and exploited children before the public, and empower our communities to end these problems. There has been some cynicism against “slacktivism” in the social media lately. Somehow, we seem to have gotten the idea that “awareness” cannot solve anything.
With the issue of missing and exploited children, nothing could be further from the truth. In a time where organizations that serve children and families with prevention education and search support remain under-funded, “awareness” is the life-blood of action. We need the engagement of our communities to do our work. We need to be invited to present our programs. We need parents to call us when they have questions about how to protect their children.
Parents need to be aware of their resources for prevention and for searching in their time of need. Children need to be empowered by awareness to keep themselves safe. Potential abductors and exploiters of children need to be aware that they will be found and prosecuted if they harm children.
Awareness isn’t the end of the line of what we can do, but it is the only solid beginning. This is not a problem that can be solved with ignorance and apathy. So, now, what can you do to bring safety to the kids in your life?
1) Talk to your child’s school, your church youth leaders, your scout troop leaders, your day-care provider about bringing Missing Children Minnesota’s prevention education programs to the children that they serve. Our programs are age-appropriate, non-threatening, simple, comprehensive, clear and empowering for kids and parents alike.
2) Contribute to Missing Children Minnesota. The great thing about contributing to an organization like MCM, is that it is a literal truth that “every little bit helps”. As a very small organization with a five-figure budget, we literally notice every $5 donation, and we spend it very carefully. We don’t just appreciate your $5 donation, we make it mighty!
No group is turned away for inability to pay. Over half of the prevention programs we do are offered at free or reduced rates, and the full rate is merely “at cost”. The maximum fee is the cost of presenting the program: usually averaging out to about $2/ child.
3) Open the lines of communication: "Like” our page on Facebook, or follow us on twitter. We frequently bring information about missing kids, and about current issues that will help you make a noise for kids as well. If you are a member of an underserved community, or have special skills or insights that will help us engage with your community, reach out and let us know what we can do to partner with you.
4) Sign up to get electronic Amber Alerts in your area at https://www.wirelessamberalerts.org/index.jsp
5) Sometime between now and May 25th (National Missing Children Day), plan to “Take 25” with your kids. Take twenty-five minutes (or more) to talk to them about personal safety. If you need a hand with this, you can take a look at our blog, or our facebook page for ideas on age-appropriate conversation starters, safety tips, and more.