Florida's Missing Remembered, Heroes Recognized For Child Protection Efforts

Sep 10, 2012

Governor Rick Scott joined several law enforcement officers and parents of missing kids during Florida Missing Children’s Day on Monday. Officials are using the event as an opportunity to recognize the state’s efforts to protect Florida’s most vulnerable and educate Floridians on child safety and abduction prevention.

“Let’s give a round of applause to our two special heroes," exclaimed Donna Uzzell, the director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Criminal Justice Information Services.

And, a crowd of hundreds of young students, public officials, law enforcement officers, and Florida residents gave a standing ovation to two young girls, Lucy and Genessa. The two were almost kidnapped by a stranger, who claimed to know both of them. After the girls managed to get away, they talked to law enforcement and aided in the child predator’s capture.

They weren’t the only kids recognized during Florida’s Missing Children Day ceremony on Monday. Parkway Christian School student Kaylee Bragg was also acknowledged for winning an essay contest that focuses on safety issues plaguing the state. This year’s theme was “Internet safety rules are great safety tools.” And, at the ceremony, fifth grader Kaylee shared an excerpt from her essay:

“Playing games, chatting with friends, and searching for information are just a few examples of what the internet has to offer," remarked Kaylee. "It sounds incredible, right? Well, it is. But, the internet can also be a dangerous place, especially for children. Staying safe on the internet is easy if you remember a few key phrases: Nothing personal, only people I know, and tell someone if I feel uncomfortable.”

Governor Rick Scott congratulated Kaylee on a job well done. He also signed an executive order Monday, which contains several provisions that will help not only the state’s children, but all Florida residents.

“Governor agencies are require to share information concerning missing children to assist law enforcement and place links on their web site to activate AMBER, missing children, and Silver Alert notifications," said Scott. "Tracking dogs will be made to assist in search and rescue efforts, when a person is reported missing. By signing this executive order, the partnerships across state agencies and with private organizations will continue to leverage every available resource for the protection of Florida’s citizens.”

During 2011, about 40,000 incidents of missing children were reported to Florida law enforcement agencies. Scott says many of the state’s efforts have been having a positive impact, like AMBER Alerts. They directly aided in the rescue of 55 children in 2011, and one so far this year.