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May 25th is Missing Children’s Day

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection shares the single most effective way to reduce the risk of a child going missing

Today on International Missing Children’s Day, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (Canadian Centre) is reaching out to all parents to educate them about the single most effective way to reduce the risk of a child going missing.

Through over 30 years of working with families of missing children, the Canadian Centre has witnessed the impacts of a missing child on families and communities. “It’s our hope that not another child goes missing,” said Christy Dzikowicz, director of MissingKids.ca at the Canadian Centre. “While we know that we cannot always prevent these terrible tragedies, we must learn from them in order to better protect children.”

In a recent study from the Canadian Centre titled “Abducted then Murdered Children: A Canadian Study (Preliminary Results)” which closely examined 147 cases between 1970 and 2010, we know:1

  • In 68% of these cases,2 the child was alone when abducted.
  • 41% of the abductions occurred in June, July or August.
  • Across all age groups, 53% were last seen between the hours of 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.3
  • 45% occurred on a Friday or Saturday.
  • 67% were in-transit at the time of abduction (i.e. walking, biking), such as travelling to school, a friend’s home or a nearby park or mall.4

Armed with this information, as the end of school year approaches the Canadian Centre is encouraging all parents to talk to their children about the importance of the Buddy System. As children reach the teenage years and have more freedom and independence, the Buddy System is more critical than ever. The study revealed that being alone was one of the most significant risk factors for abduction.

“It seems simple, but the Buddy System is the most effective strategy that reduces the risk of children being abducted,” said Dzikowicz. “We see this across age groups – from when children are small all the way up to the vulnerable young adult years. The Buddy System is the number one way of keeping our kids safe in situations that may have been preventable.”

“So many families have been impacted by the disappearance of young people too many times,” said Audrey North, cousin of Christine Wood. “Our children are up against so much and face many risks as they grow and gain independence. We need to encourage our youth to stick together in order to help keep them safe. There are many unanswered questions for so many families, at least in part because their missing family member was last seen alone.”

Information for parents

It is never too early to start teaching children about the buddy system. BillyBuddy.ca has resources to help parents teach young children this safety strategy.

As children get older and become more independent, it is critical to continue this conversation with them. Continue to reinforce the importance of the buddy system as a safety habit throughout their lifetime.

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MissingKidsALERT provides critical information in the search for missing children through email alerts to individuals, businesses and organizations.

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Retweet or share Canadian Centre posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or join the conversation with your own posts using #MissingChildrensDay.

Origins of International Missing Children’s Day

Missing Children’s Day was originally declared in 1983 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to honour 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared on May 25, 1979, from New York City. Etan’s disappearance garnered national media attention, which was rare at that time. Etan’s father, a professional photographer, distributed black-and-white photographs of Etan in an effort to find him, resulting in large-scale searches and public recognition of the risk of child abduction.

  1. Percentages below are not all out of 147 cases (referred to as instances in the study), as some information was not known for all 147 cases.
  2. It could not be determined for all 147 cases if the child was alone. The 68% is in reference to 124 cases.
  3. It could not be determined for all 147 cases when the child was last seen. The 53% refers to 107 of the cases.
  4. It could not be determined for all 147 cases what the child was doing at the time of abduction. The 67% refers to 120 of the cases.

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