On May 25th, 1979, 6 year old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school. At that time, cases of missing children rarely garnered national media attention, but Etan’s case quickly received a lot of coverage. His father, a professional photographer, distributed black-and-white photographs of Etan in an effort to find him. The resulting massive search and media attention that followed focused the public’s attention on the problem of child abduction and the lack of plans to address it.
The date of Etan’s disappearance has been designated as National Missing Children’s Day and was first commemorated in the United States on May 25, 1983, when it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan. It falls on the same day as the International Missing Children’s Day.
Dept of Justice
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children