May 2013: Honoring Missing Children’s Day and The Survivors of Abduction and Exploitation
With recent headlines on the recovery of three women held captive for 10 years in Cleveland, Ohio, we are again reminded of the prevalence and effect of abduction on our communities. Unfortunately these events occur too often as more than 2,000 children across the country go missing every day and often remain unfound. However, this story reminds us to remain hopeful and resilient in the face of tragedy as well as encourages us to remain steadfast in the efforts to recover all missing children.
This month’s MECP newsletter highlights the efforts of those who have made a significant contribution to protecting our nation’s missing children. The first article focuses on this year’s National Missing Children’s Day Ceremony, and features the National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest winner from California. In addition, MECP’s webinar series continues to focus on survivors of abduction and brings greater awareness to the effects child abduction and exploitation can have on the victim and their family. Subsequently, Abby Potash and Sam Fastow share their story of parental abduction with their unique perspectives of a missing child and searching parent. We will conclude with a webinar from Alicia Kozakiewicz as she follows up on her article from last month’s newsletter entitled, “A Survivor’s Account of Abduction and Exploitation,” sharing her personal story of abduction and her road to recovery.
2013 National Missing Children’s Day Ceremony
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25th National Missing Children’s Day. May 25th marks the anniversary of the day in 1979 when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York City street corner on his way to school. Etan’s disappearance brought national attention to the issue of missing children when his photograph was one of the first to be featured on milk cartons.
In recognition of this day, the Department of Justice hosted the National Missing Children’s Day ceremony on May 15th, 2013, at the Department of Justice’s Great Hall. Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West highlighted the department’s work, and honored those who have made a vital contribution to the search and recovery of our nation’s missing children. In addition, Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General; Bob Listenbee, Administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP); John Ryan, CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Heather Bish, sister of Molly Bish who was abducted and murdered , gave remarks.
Awardees were also recognized for their heroic efforts and dedication to protecting children. This year the Department of Justice presented awards to the following individuals:
2013 Internet Crimes Against Children Attorney General’s Award: Special Agent John D. Wydra, Jr., Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent Casey Drake, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Asheville, NC; Detective Scott Carico, Burke County Sheriff’s Department, Morganton, NC; Selena Moretz, Child Advocacy Center of the Blue Ridge, Blowing Rock, NC; and Assistant District Attorney Eric Bellas, Burke County District Attorney’s Office, Morganton, NC
Missing Children’s Law Enforcement Award: Detective Anjanette Biswell, Quincy Police Department, Quincy, Illinois
Missing Children’s Citizen Award: Brandy Hinesly and Casey Quillman of Wal-Mart, Aberdeen, Washington
Missing Children’s Child Protection Award: John “Luke” Walker, Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette, Louisiana
2013 Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest Award: Esther J., Chino Hills, California
More information on this year’s observance may be found online.
Webinar: A Real Life Story of Parental Abduction: Life as a Missing Child and as a Searching Parent
Ten year old Sam Fastow thought he was going on an adventure with his father as they traveled across the country for 8 ½ months. After battling with identity crisis, and feelings of confusion he soon learned this journey would come to an overwhelming end when his father was arrested for parental kidnapping. This webinar features Sam and his mother, Abby Potash, as they share their story of parental abduction and how they viewed the abduction throughout the search and investigative process. Sam provides his perspective of the abduction, reunification with his mother and the long term effect his experiences have on him today. Abby shares her feelings as a searching parent and her with limited resources to assist her while she navigated through the criminal justice system to find her son.
To view this recorded webinar, please visit MECP’s Webinar Page.
Webinar: A Survivor’s Account of Abduction and Exploitation
Alicia Kozakiewicz follows-up on her article from last month’s newsletter by sharing more about her story of survival, her road to recovery and provides advice for those who work with children and families affected by abduction. Alicia shares the experience of her abduction and captivity. She examines the short and long term struggles she faced post rescue, and how media attention impacted her recovery. Alicia also offers advice for those who work with victims and reminds us of the importance of an urgent field response for all missing child cases.
To view this recorded webinar, please visit MECP’s Distance Learning Page.
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) 21st Annual Colloquium, June 25th – 28th, 2013 Las Vegas, Nevada
This year APSAC’s 21st annual colloquium offers 86 institutes and workshops which address all aspects of child maltreatment including prevention, assessment, intervention and treatment with victims, perpetrators and families affected by physical, sexual and psychological abuse and neglect. For more information please visit here.
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We Want to Hear From You!
MECP invites you to share your stories about your organization’s contributions to the juvenile justice field. It is our goal to expand awareness about all the issues surrounding missing children and child exploitation as well as increase understanding of the impact of your work — its value for practice, policy, ongoing research, advocacy and more importantly, for youth, their families and their communities. We’d also like to promote networking opportunities so organizations across the country can connect with one another.
Help others by sharing your success story. Selected stories will be featured in our monthly newsletter. To submit your story, please visit us online. Thank you for all you do to make a positive difference in our children’s lives.
 National Center For Missing and Exploited Children 2011 Annual Report http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC171.pdf