World Missing Children Day (May 25): Milk Cartons to Twitter – Technology Aids in Tracing Missing Children

Picture of Missing Children printed on Milk Cartons, the most prevalent means in United States to trace missing children in 1980s

May 25 gets the designation of the World Missing Children Day as a remembrance to Etan Kalil Patz, then aged six, who went missing in New York city on May 25 1979. A massive hunt to trace the missing child was made. Etan’s photograph was printed on milk cartons, with the hope that consumers would be able to identify Etan if they chanced upon him. Etan was the first ever missing child to be pictured on the side of a milk carton. The milk carton campaigns became an important tool for tracing missing children in the 1980s. This was 40 years back, over the years technology has given tracing of missing children a new and potent tool.


Etan Kalil Patz

Recently Twitter became the saviour of three abandoned children at the New Delhi Railway station. PTI Journalist Abhishek Shukla saw huddled on platform number 16 three children. Abhishek took their picture on his mobile and posted on Twitter asking people to help reunite the children with their family. The message read ‘Can someone help these helpless kids at New Dehli Railway Station near platform 16 entrance” The photo of the kids was tagged with the message. The message was re-tweeted 234 times and one of the tweets reached Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP (North) Madhur Verma.

Verma in turn instructed the SHO of the New Delhi station area to intervene. The police arrived and took charge of the children. It turned out that three children Rumana (7), Raja (5), and Sanya (4) were deserted at New Delhi railway station by their father who took them for a day out. The eldest of the three, Rumana, told the police that that their house was somewhere near Nabi Karim police station. Policemen took the children to that area and walked around until they identified their house. The children were reunited with their mother.


The Twitter Post that reunited the three abandoned children at New Delhi Railway Station with their mother. Notice how the eldest Rumana (7) has taken charge of her siblings – Raja(5) and Sanya (4)

Mother of the children Tabassum in her statement stated that her husband Jabbaz used to come home drunk every night and beat her. So she with her three children came to Delhi from Kanpur around two months ago and began living with her cousin Reshma in Nabi Karim. Jabbaz came looking for his family and took the kids out for a stroll. Who was to know that he would abandon the children at the railway station.

In India it is estimated that more than 60,000 children are abandoned every year and most of these cases go unnoticed. Thanks to Twitter that the three unfortunate children could be traced and united with their mother.