In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 as National Missing Children's Day in memory of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who disappeared from a New York City street corner on May 25, 1979. This day shines a spotlight on child safety and honors the professionals dedicated to protecting children around the country. Each year, the Department of Justice leads the nation in observing National Missing Children's Day.
On May 25, 2021, the Department plans to announce the winners of the 2021 National Missing Children’s Day awards. The recipients were recognized for their extraordinary efforts to find missing children, protect children from harm, and bring perpetrators to justice in the following award categories:
- Attorney General's Special Commendation
- Missing Children's Child Protection Award
- Missing Children's Citizen Award
- Missing Children's Law Enforcement Award
This year, in lieu of an in-person ceremony, OJJDP commemorates National Missing Children’s Day virtually through this website. Read the news release for more details about these law enforcement professionals and individuals who were honored for their heroic work to recover missing children and bring sexual predators to justice.
Justice Department Observes National Missing Children's Day
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland
Attorney General Garland recognizes the brave and resourceful public safety and child serving professionals who are dedicated to protecting children, including the heroes being honored for the 38th National Missing Children's Day.
Attorney General Garland also highlights Department activities to protect children including the Project Safe Childhood Initiative and the Department's support for 61 Internet Crimes Against Children task forces.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta emphasizes the importance of protecting children who go missing and those who are high-risk and endangered, including victims of trafficking, who often face the unimaginable. She also acknowledges the heroes who serve families and communities to keep children safe, highlighting this year's National Missing Children's Day award recipients.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon
In this video message, OJP PDAAG Amy Solomon congratulates award recipients for their remarkable accomplishments on behalf of missing children and their families. She also expresses her pride in OJP's partnerships with so many champions who dedicate their careers and their lives to protecting children.
OJJDP Acting Administrator Chyrl Jones
OJJDP Acting Administrator Chyrl Jones expresses her gratitude to this year's National Missing Children's Day awardees and also discusses several of the powerful partnerships the Office supports including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program.
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is a critical partner to OJJDP, serving as a resource to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation, and prevent child victimization.
John F. Clark, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
NCMEC President and CEO John F. Clark discusses the impact of the AMBER Alert in galvanizing communities to bring missing children home by providing critical information using all available technologies. Mr. Clark also provides a warning regarding a new spike in AMBER Alerts related to children left unattended in cars.
National Missing Children's Day Awards
Nine individuals are honored for their efforts to find missing children and bring child sexual predators to justice, including:
- A police sergeant who helps special needs children in distress;
- Two advocates whose work led to the recovery of 180 children in Hawaii;
- A team of law enforcement professionals who shut down a major child pornography ring;
- An alert citizen, and member of the Postal Service, who rescued an abandoned toddler.
2021 National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest Winner
Heidy Jimena Perez Veleta from Dodge City, Kansas is the winner of the 2021 National Missing Children’s Day poster contest.
Heidy’s poster features two hands forming a heart with a small child, huddled head down with her hands around her knees in the heart. Heidy explained that the heart symbolizes love and hope for families and parents as they search for their missing children.