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Help find missing children: A lesson from a lost-boy abducted in 1955

By       Message Mary MacElveen     Permalink
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As we all know the case of the long-lost boy from Long Island, NY is still a mystery when DNA evidence proved that John Barnes is not the child taken in front of a grocery store back in 1955.  I cannot even imagine the pain the Damman family has been put through where they are still wondering what ever happened to their son, and sibling.  What of the pain, Barnes put his own father through.  

According to the AP report filed on this story: “Richard Barnes, immediately dismissed the speculation as "a bunch of foolishness," and said John Barnes was born in a Navy hospital in Pensacola, Fla., on Aug. 18, 1955.” Yet out of a feeling of not fitting in with the family, John Barnes used the resources of the FBI in this DNA testing. 

As I cannot fathom the pain both families were put through, what I can fathom the media-hype this story has created in the past few days as Newsday ran multi-page articles concerning this lone case.  Yet, a community still wonders what happened to that little boy named Stephen Damman.  In light of the DNA testing which was still ongoing by the FBI at Quantico, perhaps the hype by the media should have been kept low-key until the test results came in. 

Maybe the lesson we should all gain from this lone-story is that each year many children in our country go missing and their families not knowing if they are dead or alive.  We see their faces on hand-outs, our local news as well as cable networks and on “America’s Most Wanted” hosted by John Walsh.  All I ask is that you pay attention.  Incidentally Fox tried to pull this show years ago due to low ratings, but a group of governors petitioned Fox to keep it on since they felt it invaluable to fighting crime.  Kudos to those governors. 

After Adam Walsh was snatched from Sears back in 1981, and according to Wikipedia: “Sixteen days after the abduction, his severed head was found in a drainage canal more than 120 miles away from home. His other remains were never recovered.” During the time of his disappearance his parents John and Revé’s mission was to find their little boy. I remember watching a movie based upon Adam’s abduction and what riled me was a statement made by Mr. Walsh and I will paraphrase him, it was far easier to find a missing car then a missing child and abducted child.  At that time, both local and federal data-bases kept track of stolen vehicles, not children. 

In hind-sight, perhaps if such a data-base been in place before Adam’s abduction and murder, the mystery of the Etan Patz case could have been solved.  He was abducted in Manhattan on May 25, 1979.  We shall never know. 

Upon Adam being found, both John and Reve grieved as any parents would. After the mourning was over with, which still lasts to this day as one looks upon John Walsh’s face as he speaks of Adam, they went onto co-found the Centers for Missing and Exploited Children.  As many of us surf the Internet for information we must ask ourselves: Is this a site we often go to?  Perhaps if we made it a habit to at least visit this site once a day or once a week we can help reunite these missing children with those who pine their return home safely; their family.

As cited on the Centers for Missing and Exploited Children: “If your child disappears in a store, notify the store manager or security office. Then immediately call your local law-enforcement agency. Many stores have a Code Adam plan of action— if a child is missing in the store, employees immediately mobilize to look for the missing child.When a store mobilizes for Code Adam, they will lock down all the exits and entrances. If the store you frequently visit does not have this system in place, approach the manager of the store and ask: Why not?  I think that every parent of a child should do so.  We must be our children’s advocate.

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If you are a parent, carry with you at ALL times a current picture of your child and make sure their dental visits are up-to-date.  This way, dentists have on record their dental x-rays should the worst case scenario happen or to prove a child found dead is not your child.

Other tips to help locate missing children are listed below:

When you call law enforcement, provide your child's name, date of birth, height, weight, and any other unique identifiers such as eyeglasses and braces. Tell them when you noticed that your child was missing and what clothing he or she was wearing.

Request that your child's name and identifying information be immediately entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File.

After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children on our toll-free telephone number: 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). Or you can use our Live Hotline to talk to NCMEC through our web site.

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While we may not be able to solve mysteries decades old of missing children, I do feel we can play an integral part in helping to prevent children from becoming the next missing child or worse; murdered.  In any broadcast where a child has been found murdered and their remains found, I cannot help but to think of that child’s last moments here on Earth.  It offends the senses when such violence is brought upon a child.

In reading this column, what I ask of all of you is to click on the Centers for Missing and Exploited Children and see if you do recognize a child that is missing.  If you do, then please contact your local law enforcement agency as well the Centers for Missing and Exploited Children.  Let us not leave these children behind when their parents desperately want to be reunited with them. Imagine if it were your child: You would want this from every single American. Let us keep our eyes open and bring these children back home.

Author’s email address is, xmjmac@optonline.net

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I am a writer who currently writes pieces for my own blog http://www.mary-macelveen.blogspot.com I have been published by Buzzflash.com, TheLiberalPatriot.org and MikeHersh.com. I was a guest on the Jay Diamond Radio Show on WRKO in Boston and have (more...)

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