Evelyn Chapman, 15
Last seen: Dec. 14, 1998
in 111th Pct.
Joel Rodriguez, 19
Last seen: July 9,1998
Last Seen: Feb. 26, 1999
Last Seen: Sept. 7, 1998
Rachel Wu, 14
Last seen: Nov. 15, 1998
Shavon Gonzalez, 17
Last seen: Feb. 25, 1999
Theyre the faces on milk cartons,
snatched from our schools, playgrounds, malls and front steps.
Theyre teenagers, lured into cars and
vans by the promise of a modeling career, or a future of fame and fortune.
Theyre missing kids a
parents nightmare and a puzzling phenomenon to law enforcement agents nationwide.
Cesilia Pena was last seen by her family on
Oct. 6, 1976. She was last spotted riding home from school on a Queens subway, wearing her
parochial school uniform light gray jacket, gray plaid skirt and white blouse.
And then she was gone.
Cesilia Pena would be 36-years old today
something that has led her parents to wonder if she survived an abduction. Surely
she would have reached out to her family by now?
Some 17,000 law enforcement agencies work
nationwide to try and bring missing kids home.
Along with outside agencies like the
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMC), the NYPD Missing Persons Squad
is a 24-hour, seven-day operation available on-line complete with photos of the missing
children, descriptions and family background information.
The NCMC, along with numerous advertising
agencies, offer computer-generated illustrations of the children as they might look today.
Its called "Age Enhancing,"
the art of applying science and computer photo-generated technology to old photographs of
the youngsters, adding a photo composition of how the child might look today. Artists also
often "mix" photos of siblings and parents with old photos of the missing kids
to form a "current" composite of the children.
Law enforcement officials believe that for
each missing child there is at least one person who knows something where the child
is, how the child is and who is holding him or her.
Police urge the public to be aware of
youngsters in questionable circumstances. Notify police if you feel there is foul play
involving a child, including abuse and/or possible abduction.
You may also contact the NCMC a
private, not-for-profit organization which was mandated by Congress as a resource to
agencies seeking information on missing children. The agency works alongside the US
Department of Justice and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,
operating a 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST, which has recovered 44,903 children out of
the 64,14 youngsters reported missing since its establishment.
To report a missing child, or if you
believe you have spotted a child you have seen in a photograph, call your local precinct,
the NYPD Missing Persons Bureau, at (212) 374-???? OR THE NCMC Hotline
Keeping Your Children
Teach Your Children!
Most of us have been taught (and usually
pass on to our children) about not talking to or accepting gifts from strangers, and this
is very good. But, despite the stranger image, the child molester is not easily
identifiable. The majority of cases show the offender to be known to the child (i.e.,
parents/guardians, grandparents, brothers, sisters, relatives, babysitters, friends,
Take Time To Listen
Encourage children to talk to you about
anything and everything
Smart people take precautions against
"bad things" like fire, disease, crime and people who want to hurt them. Do not
be frightened so that you are too suspicious of all people, but personal safety is more
than learning how to cross the street, ride a bicycle or swim.
Awareness and prevention should be
discussed within the whole family. Since children are usually very aware of
"news" as well as local incidents, (even though they may have a disoriented
picture of what happened), perhaps the use of a news item or a recent event could serve as
an introduction to the topic.
Do not put aside what a child says as
exaggeration, imagination, "a lie." Check out the information. Take appropriate
action by notifying child protective services.
Learn to use public transportation or have
you or another responsible person take you to and from their destination. Never hitchhike.
What Children Should Know
Every child has the right to say
"no" to unwanted touch. Touching, kissing, hugging someone and having someone
return that affection is a personal choice. But, if a parent/guardian, grandparent,
relative, friend, babysitter, stranger, etc., wants to touch your "private
areas" (parts of the body that a bathing suit or underwear cover), say
"no." Get away. Tell an adult that you trust.
Talk to your parent/guardian, trusted
adult, school guidance counselor, etc. Even if you are embarrassed or ashamed about a
situation or behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable. Dont let anyone (family,
friends, strangers) convince you to keep it "secret."
On any class trip or family outing stay
with your group. Dont wander off alone. Have a prearranged meeting area to wait for
your family/group in case you get separated. Choose a location where there are other
people so that you are not alone until you are found.
Be sure to lock doors/windows and never
indicate to anyone that you are home alone. Dont open the door to anyone you are not
expecting. If someone telephones asking for your parents/guardian, state that they
cant come to the phone. Take a message or have them call back.
Enter a public rest room with caution. It
is best to have someone accompany you. Dont speak to strangers. Dont loiter in
or around the area.
Shirts, blouses, outer clothing, jewelry,
etc., should not show your name because someone you have not met before might trick you
into believing she/he knows you by calling your name.
Always tell your parent/guardian or
responsible adult where you are going, with whom you will be and when you will return.
Familiarize yourself with your
neighborhood. Look for places you can go to if you should need immediate help (store, gas
station, a friends home, police/fire station, etc.).
Every time you are tempted to take "shortcuts,"
walk through deserted areas, alleyways, vacant lots, or go into an abandoned building,
etc., think about the danger involved. Walk and play in open areas where you can see
around you and be seen by other people. Dont stay in the school yard or playground
after your friends have left. If possible, travel to and from school with a friend or