Juvenile Justice Volume: 5 Issue: 1 Dated: May 1998 Pages: 3-8
The son of John Walsh, the host of the television program "America's Most Wanted" and whose son was abducted and murdered in 1981, discusses changes that have occurred in the way the juvenile justice system responds to missing and exploited children.
When his son was abducted, no system was in place to track information or leads about abducted children. Law enforcement agencies were not trained or equipped to investigate missing children cases, and had experienced the murder of a child. Many agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were reluctant to get involved in missing children cases. Few local resources and services were available for missing children and their families, and victim rights was not a significant public issue. Public recognition of the missing children problem has substantially increased over the years, in part due to the Missing and Exploited Children Program of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). In particular, the OJJDP has published a Family Survival Guide to help parents of missing children in such areas as working effectively with law enforcement, the nature of the search process, rewards, and volunteers. The OJJDP has also funded a family support network that pairs families of missing and exploited children with other parents of victims for support, assistance, and encouragement. Juvenile justice and law enforcement officials are now better trained in how to conduct thorough investigations and are better equipped to help parents deal with crisis.
Date Published: May 1, 1998