NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Today is the 40th annual National Missing Children’s Day.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, just in Tennessee alone, 500-600 children go missing every month, but there are steps parents can take to try and prevent their child(ren) from falling victim.
In 2011, baby Zaylee Grace vanished from her Millersville home, she’s one of the many missing children that keep Brian Callies up at night.
“The whole point is to boldly rescue missing, exploited, and sex-trafficked children,” Callies said.
Callies started the organization Saving Lost Kids and teaches prevention. For younger kids, he said “Stranger Danger” is a thing of the past and he wants parents and kids to learn a new phrase, “Check First.”
“We just want to check with mom or dad first to see if it’s okay. Don’t tell them it’s always ‘no.’ Just check with me first, and that way I can make sure it’s okay,” said Callies. “Prevention is the key of what we try to do first.”
However, sometimes the worst does happen, and that’s when recovery is key. The organization has a tool kit called the child passport. It’s where you can store your child’s information, photo, even DNA and scent in case the worst does happen and law enforcement can immediately get to work searching.
“Every minute is a mile that they can be farther away,” said Steve Ball, deputy director of the United States Investigative Services Bureau, which works alongside Saving Lost Kids and law enforcement.
Ball said that in order for the child to come, parents must be 100% honest with law enforcement in those critical first moments.
“Give them all the information that they have. A lot of time, parents will hold back so as to not get the kid in trouble, but what they need to do is give every bit of it, whether it’s drinking, drug use, bad friends, gang affiliations, any of that. All of that is helpful,” said Ball.
President Ronald Reagan started National Missing Children’s day in 1983 after a 6-year-old boy disappeared from a New York City street corner; his body was never found.
Call 1-800-TBI-FIND if you have any information on a missing child. The TBI also has a kit of its own where you can plug in your child’s information. It’s called the TN CareKIT and it can save you time in a crisis moment. The document already has the child’s information like photo, age, and social media information, so law enforcement can immediately get to work.
If you would like to support or receive more educational material on how to prevent a child from going missing, you can click here to contact Saving Lost Kids.