BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- For the month of May, the Benton Police Department made it their initiative to learn how they could make a bigger difference in finding missing kids. It's an initiative they say they want to continue.
Benton Police Officer Justin Dorsey said that until these children are found, they won’t give up on finding them. He said that members of the department were shocked to learn about how big of a problem this is in Arkansas and across the country. That’s why they are making the conversation a core effort in the department.
“Our media specialist at the police department dedicates Monday as ‘find the missing Monday,’ and he's constantly on Facebook updating posts on missing children here in Arkansas,” said Officer Dorsey.
He added that another part of their effort is trying to take away the stigma of what a missing child is like. They aren't all just runaways looking for an escape. Some are lured or enticed to leave.
“There are a lot of different categories of runaway, missing, or exploited children,” he explained.
That's why they're working with the Morgan Nick Foundation to educate more families about keeping kids safe. Genevie Strickland, Director of Education for the Morgan Nick Foundation, said that in the United States there are 800,000 kids that go missing every year. The cause of their missing can often be traced back to things they are doing on the internet.
That’s why the foundation trains officers and community members about smart social media use to make sure kids don't get caught in a bad situation. Strickland said that with technology constantly changing it's imperative the conversation continues.
“Apps are constantly changing, and so I think we can all work together to learn, grow, and improve,” said Strickland.
She said the foundation will put in every effort to bring each missing child home but their main goal is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
“We want these kids and these families to understand where that danger lies,” she said.
For more information and resources about protecting your kids visit the Morgan Nick Foundation website.