Ford and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Urge Parents, Congress to Act for Child Safety

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Wednesday, 21 May 2003

Ford Motor Company and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) are offering free digital safety I.D. kits to reduce the number of missing children and urging parents and Congress to keep kids safe.

Congressional members and law enforcement officials will reinforce the need to protect children from the risk of being abducted and aid in their recovery at today's NCMEC 8th Annual Congressional Breakfast & Law Enforcement Awards.

Attending dignitaries include Rep. Nick Lampson, founder of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Dennis DeConcini (Ret.). Also attending is John Walsh, co-founder of NCMEC and host of "America's Most Wanted" and "The John Walsh Show."

Starting National Missing Children's Day on May 25, Ford dealers nationwide will provide the free digital I.D. kits during "Commitment to Kids" Safety I.D. Days. The information on the I.D. kit's disk - a current, quality digital photo and descriptive information - provides the number one tool law enforcement needs to expedite the return of a missing child.

"Our dealer network provides the infrastructure to reach out beyond our products and into the communities where we do business," said Steve Lyons, Ford Division president. "What started as a national program, distributing nearly one million I.D. kits in hundreds of cities across America, quickly became a very powerful grassroots effort."

According to NCMEC, one out of six missing children is recovered because someone recognizes his or her photograph. For the I.D. kit, each child's digital photo will be taken and saved on a disk with descriptive information that parents provide. Parents will take the disk home for safekeeping and no information is retained by the dealership.

"The electronic delivery to law enforcement officials of a child's digital photo can save critical time," said John Walsh. "The chances of safely recovering a child are much greater in the first few hours immediately following a child's disappearance."

Obtaining an I.D. kit may be the most important thing parents do this year. The kit provides parents the ability to instantly disseminate a missing child's photo and information to authorities, the proper forms required to report a child missing, and the ability to automatically print and disseminate a customized "Missing Child Alert" poster.

"A few minutes on a weekend can give parents peace of mind and law enforcement a valuable tool if a child is missing," said Ernie Allen, NCMEC president and CEO. "Ford's dealer network enables us to put I.D. kits in the hands of parents in thousands of communities."

Ford was honored for its Commitment to Kids program and presented the "Making The World A Safer Place" award at NCMEC's Hope Awards charity benefit on Tuesday, May 20. The event raises money to support causes that help keep children safe.

According to the Department of Justice, almost 800,000 children - 2,200 per day - are reported missing each year. Another 500,000 children go missing without being reported to authorities.

In locating a missing child, computer imaging, broadcast faxing, e-mail and the Internet have replaced sketches, black-and-white posters and mail services. New technology has helped increase NCMEC's recovery rate from 62 percent in 1990 to 94 percent today.

Ford's Commitment to Kids Safety I.D. Day dates and dealer locations are available at www.fordvehicles.com.

For more information, or to contact National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, see their website at: www.missingkids.org

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