Hope is Why We’re Here
By Quinn Fireside, Fellow of Single Carrot Theatre
Founded in 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (henceforth referred to as the National Center) is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that works tirelessly to protect children in America from abduction through educational programs, and to assist in the recovery of missing children.
The National Center was founded by John and Revé Walsh, in response to the 1979 abduction of Etan Patz, the late 70’s and early 80’s abduction and murder of 29 young Black boys in Atlanta, as well as the abduction of their son Adam Walsh in 1981. The Walsh’s were frustrated by the lack of support they received from law enforcement in the search for their son, and banded together with other child advocates to create the National Center. Former President Ronald Reagan was the honored guest of the organization’s opening, and is responsible for the declaration of National Missing Children’s Day, a day dedicated to children who have not yet been recovered, and children who were killed before they could be found.
Since its founding, the National Center has opened a CyberTipline to help stop the sexual exploitation of children on the internet. They have also opened a 24/7 hotline for parents or guardians who believe their child has gone missing, and for people with potentially helpful information pertaining to a missing or exploited child. The National Center is responsible for AMBER Alerts, which have become a known staple of child abduction cases. The National Center has also created appropriate educational material for all age groups on how to stay safe and informed so as to prevent abduction and empower children to practice safe behavior. They have also served as the national clearinghouse for missing and exploited children since their beginning.
Without a doubt, the National Center has been absolutely instrumental to the advances made in recovery and prevention of missing and exploited children. As you can read about in our last blog post, Blame Game, the National Center is particularly influential to me as, in my admittedly low-level understanding of the network of child safety organizations, they are the only organization to truly level with the people they work with. In the training I have done with them, they differed from other organizations I know of in that they sat in front of me and my coworkers and said straight up that it is the adults responsibility to protect children from predators and that random kidnappings were far and few between. They are honest. They have a clear and well represented goal of educating and protecting, and they do so with incredible results. Working the National Center has changed my life, and I’m sure I speak for a lot of the Single Carrot family when I say that.
They have been an organization of immense change and progress in the process of recovering missing children, educating children and parents, counseling victims of kidnappings and their families, and in the destruction of the idea that children are responsible for themselves in terms of avoiding being snatched or lured away. They, as a group, as a clearinghouse, as a force in the world of protection of children, made in comparable levels of change in the way we as a country view missing and exploited children.
Single Carrot Theatre is incredibly grateful to have been able to partner with the National Center on the first show of our 12th Season, Mr. Wolf, by Rajiv Joseph.