Our mission is to protect Hawaii’s children from abduction and exploitation.
Our efforts will promote, educate and support the recovery of missing children and facilitate the reunification and care of families.
Fundraising: To raise funds to support and initiate recovery of missing and abducted children, public awareness and education about the issues of missing children.
Education: To educate the public and ourselves about the issues of missing children.
Communications: To clearly promote and communicate the mission of the Friends of the Missing Children’s Center Hawaii through the use of informational tools.
When Sharon Y. Martinez’ three children were abducted in 1991, she desperately sought help from every resource she could imagine. However, the state and federal governments were not coordinated in their recovery efforts and much of her personal resources were exhausted in an attempt to bring her children safely back home to Hawaii.
Prior to the passing of HRS 28-0121 establishing the Hawaii State Clearinghouse for Missing Children in 1994, there was no agency solely dedicated to the recovery and prevention of child abduction in Hawaii. Parents of missing children had nowhere to turn for assistance. In some cases, local law enforcement would consider these kinds of cases as civil matters or domestic disputes.
Recovering a child sometimes took a lot of resources including transportation, investigation fees, and legal counsel. There were instances when parents file for bankruptcy in their attempt to recover their missing child. Ms. Martinez was instrumental in establishing the Hawaii State Clearinghouse for Missing Children. Ms. Martinez spent over $70,000 trying to locate her children, hiring attorneys and private investigators. Three years after her children were abducted by their father and taken to Mexico, her 14 year old son escaped from his father’s captivity and was reunited with his mother.
Ms. Martinez reached out to support other victim-parents but had no thoughts about forming an organization until meeting Pamela Ferguson-Brey, then executive director of the State Commission on the Status of Women. Together, the two planned, organized, and lobbied tirelessly before the Hawaii Legislature to establish the Hawaii State Clearinghouse for Missing Children. They gathered support from individuals in the community and was successful in the establishing the Missing Child Center Hawaii, formerly called the Hawaii State Clearinghouse for Missing Children and the Friends of the Missing Child Center-Hawaii, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.
A staggering 200,000 children are abducted by a parent or family member in the United States every year according to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-2 Study, 2003). So, while the tragedy of stranger abductions makes the media headlines, comparatively abductions by family members accounts for 78% of all child abduction in America. For every one stranger abduction, there are xx family abductions.
Being abducted can be a traumatic experience. Being put in a situation of one parent vs. another parent can be detrimental to a child. Once a child is recovered and returned to the custodial parent, much counseling is required to give the child an understanding of what has happened to him/her. Studies show that children who are counseled after their abduction, can live a normal, healthy adult life.
The Friends of the Missing Child Center-Hawaii(MCCH) has made it their priority to offer counseling services to families who have their child recovered. Funding for counseling services can be provided by the Friends of MCCH to those who are unable to afford or do not have insurance to cover the costs.
In conjunction with the reunification counseling, the Friends of FMCCH have helped to sponsor specialized training focused on parental child abductions for mental health professionals in Hawaii as a commitment to the education and reunification of families. Having a number of professionals in the mental health field trained, specifically in family abductions, can be beneficial in the long run for families who are reunited. Training programs are coordinated by MCCH with the help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children staff. Reunification counseling is considered a priority of the Friends of the Missing Child Center-Hawaii.
The Missing Child Center-Hawaii has provided trainings to various groups such as law enforcement, service providers, and the general public. The Friends of MCCH have helped by providing funding to offset some of the costs. These are all part of Friends commitment to education, prevention, and recovery.
This past year, the Missing Child Center-Hawaii with the help of the Friends of MCCH sponsored a roundtable for families of missing children. The roundtable discussion was facilitated by U.S. Department of Justice Office of Children Programs Associate Director Ron Laney. Parents of missing children, either still missing or recovered, were able to share their experiences and feelings with the group. One of the objectives was for the Missing Child Center-Hawaii to better understand the gaps or services needed by families when their child goes missing.
The Friends of MCCH have produced several prevention and educational TV specials on missing children. These specials are meant to educate the general public and inform parents and children on ways to prevent abduction. This outreach program was developed by the Friends of MCCH as a way to protect and educate the general public. The purpose of the TV Specials is to bring awareness to missing children issues, as well as offer safety messages to help prevent future abductions.
May 25th is National Missing Children’s Day. On May 25, 1979, a mother sent her 6-year old son off to school in New York. Etan Patz kissed his mother goodbye and started walking to the bus stop, just two short blocks away. His mother watched as he made his way, then rushed home to care for another child who was sick. Etan never made it to the bus stop, nor did he ever return home again.
In 1983, in honor of Etan Patz, former President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25th as National Missing Children’s Day to bring attention to the plight of missing children and their families and to renew our efforts nationwide to reunite children and their loved ones.
The Friends of the Missing Child Center-Hawaii helped to sponsor the purchase/training/transportation of two bloodhounds; one for the Honolulu Police Department and one for the Hawaii Police Department. Bloodhounds are known for their ability of scent to locate people. FMCCH worked in conjunction with the police departments to purchase these bloodhounds for police to locate missing persons.
The bloodhounds have also been used by the police departments to locate missing/lost elders and criminal fugitives.
Annie is the Honolulu Police Department bloodhound. During Annie’s first three-year tenure, she has been successful in locating seven missing persons.
The Missing Child Center-Hawaii with the assistance of the Friends of the Missing Child Center-Hawaii and other agencies/organizations sponsors events several times a year in different locations. The Missing Child Center-Hawaii issues approximately 1500 to 2000 free Keiki ID kits per year. At some Keiki ID events, parents can learn prevention tips in keeping their child safe through educational pamphlets and brochures.
The Keiki ID kit collects and records physical information of children less than 18 years of age. The kit is a preventive tool for families so if their child were to go missing, all the information needed by law enforcement would be in one place. If a child was abducted, the information in the kit will help the police locate and identify the missing child: height, weight, current photo, finger prints, dental charting, and a hair DNA sample. The parent should keep this information updated as often as possible.
In conjuction with the Keiki ID kits, Friends of MCCH and corporate sponsors produced “Grow and Be Safe” Growth Chart – a local, child-friendly growth chart with safety messages and resources for children and parents. The objectives of the growth chart are as follows: 1) to promote safety messages to elementary aged children and their families; 2) to provide resources available to families if a child should go missing; and 3) to offer parents a tool to update information on their child, in case she/he goes missing (the more accurate information a parent can provide to law enforcement, the better chance of recovering a missing child). Growth charts are distributed at Keiki ID events.