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OJJDP News @ a Glance May 2024

OJJDP Commemorates the 41st Annual National Missing Children’s Day

2024 Missing Children's Day winning poster
Fifth grader Hanna Lapina from Chesnee, SC, won the 2024 National Missing Children’s Day poster contest.

OJJDP observed the 41st annual National Missing Children’s Day on May 22 with an expanded event featuring a panel discussion focused on children who go missing while under state care. National Missing Children’s Day calls attention to the estimated 375,000 children who go missing in the United States every year and the need to prioritize child safety nationwide.

“Our concern over the threats our children are facing should not be a cause for despair—they should motivate us to greater action,” said Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon. “We have shown, many times before, that we are capable of rising to new challenges, and I have no doubt that we will rise together to meet the ones before us today.”

Special Agent Aisha Rahman from Homeland Security Investigations and Detective Malory Wildove from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, both of West Palm Beach, FL, received the OJJDP Administrator’s Special Commendation for their exhaustive pursuit of individuals involved in an online social networking application that distributed child sexual exploitation material to hundreds of people. The investigation, Operation Grimm Tale, led to the arrest of five defendants, all of whom were indicted and sentenced to between 13 and 30 years in prison.

Hanna Lapina, a fifth grader from Cooley Springs-Fingerville Elementary School in Chesnee, SC, was named the winner of the 2024 National Missing Children’s Day poster contest. “My picture symbolized how the world is not complete until missing children return home,” she said. “Those who help bring them back change the whole picture completely.” OJJDP’s annual contest provides an opportunity for schools, law enforcement, and child advocates to discuss child safety strategies with youth, parents, and guardians. The winning poster also inspires the logo design for the following year’s commemoration.

Following the awards presentation, a panel of experts, including a youth with lived experience in the foster care system, explored why so many children and young adults go missing from state care. Teens are reported missing from state-supported care at a rate four times higher than all teens, Assistant Attorney General Solomon said. Panelists discussed risk factors, common vulnerabilities, and strategies for reducing incidents and enhancing child protection through stakeholder collaboration.

Marquan Teetz, a youth advocate from Kansas, said that youth in foster care often run away because they feel they have little control over their lives. A lack of stable placements and needed supports also contribute to the problem. Mentoring—from adults and peers who have experience navigating the foster care system—is an effective intervention, Mr. Teetz said.

Following the commemoration, OJJDP met with parents and siblings of children who have been abducted. They discussed expanding resources available to families after a child goes missing and finding new ways to promote the family survival guide, When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide, which was updated and released last year, and What About Me? Finding Your Path Forward When Your Brother or Sister is Missing, a guide for siblings, which is being updated and is slated for release later this year. Ten siblings contributed to the update.


NCMEC provides a variety of services to state agencies searching for children missing from their care, including case management, poster distribution, law enforcement technical assistance, and analytical support. Analysis of Children Missing from Care Reported to NCMEC 2013–2022 includes data about children missing from care and insights from youth involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. NCMEC published the report in November 2023, in partnership with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University.

Date Created: May 29, 2024