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. Etan's killer was convicted in February 2017, but the case remains active because his body was never found. This day brings focus to child safety and honors the professionals dedicated to protecting children around the country. Each year, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) leads the nation in observing National Missing Children's Day.
"On this day, we remember that some 460,000 children go missing from the United States every year – and we take this opportunity to remind ourselves of both the scope of the challenge before us and the depth of our collective commitment to the safety and welfare of America's youth."
—Office of Justice Programs Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon
OJJDP joined the U.S. Department of Justice to commemorate the 40th annual National Missing Children's Day with a ceremony on May 24, 2023. The winners of the 2023 National Missing Children's Day awards were announced at the ceremony. Read the news release.
"Through their resourcefulness, their exceptional savvy and, most of all, their tenacious commitment to the health and safety of our nation's young people, these award recipients have saved and protected hundreds of children from abductions, exploitation and further harm," said Liz Ryan, OJJDP Administrator. "We are honored to recognize them for their extraordinary efforts to secure a bright future for our youngest generation."
The nine honorees are recognized for their extraordinary efforts to find missing children, protect children from harm, and bring sexual predators to justice in the following award categories:
- Attorney General's Special Commendation
- Missing Children's Child Protection Award
- Missing Children's Law Enforcement Award
On May 24, 2023, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, Office of Justice Programs Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon, and OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan honored law enforcement officers and an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for their efforts to find missing children and prevent child sexual exploitation during the 40th Annual National Missing Children's Day.
"These diligent and courageous professionals, and one exceptionally talented student, have shown us what it takes to keep our young people safe, deliver justice to victims and their families, and bring awareness and hope to exploited children throughout the country. They are true heroes in the eyes of the Department of Justice and we are forever grateful for their service."
—Attorney General Merrick B. Garland
"These individuals exemplify the commitment, resolve, and creativity that we celebrate on this day each year. The Department of Justice is proud to stand with these heroes, and we are grateful for the thousands of law enforcement officers and missing children advocates throughout the nation who work so hard to protect our children every day."
—Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta
"I want to thank all of you in this room for being a champion for children and for recognizing that your presence here sends an incredibly powerful message to the families of missing children that – they are not alone and that their children are our children."
—NCMEC President and CEO Michelle DeLaune
Ceremony Guest Speaker
Paul Jack Fronczak, an author and advocate, was a missing child and is now searching for his twin sister, Jill. On Oct. 27, 1963, Paul, whose birthname is Jack Rosenthal, and Jill, were born in New Jersey. Between 1963 and 1965 the Rosenthal twins became separated. Paul had been left abandoned as a toddler in Newark, NJ. Read about Paul's story.
2023 National Missing Children's Day Awards
Individuals are being honored for their efforts to find missing children and bring child sexual predators to justice.
2023 National Missing Children's Day Winning Poster
Ayoub A., 10, New York, NY, is the 2023 National Missing Children's Day poster contest winner.