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2006 News from Mecklenburg County


May 22, 2006

COLLABORATION SEEKS TO SAFEGUARD CHILDREN THROUGH WEEK-LONG EDUCATION EFFORT

Charlotte, NC - A week dedicated to bringing attention to the problem of missing and exploited children in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and nationwide is the focus of a new collaboration called "Hand in Hand with Children: Guiding and Protecting."

A recent joint proclamation of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners and the City Council of Charlotte designates May 21 - 27, 2006, as "National Hand in Hand with Children: Guiding and Protecting Week." The local effort is supported by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), the creators of the safety education and awareness campaign for communities. The week includes observance of National Missing Children’s Day on Thursday, May 25, 2006.

Each year, more than 1,000 children are reported missing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, although most of the abductions are family or custody related, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD). Also, CMPD’s Juvenile Victims Unit detectives investigated 456 cases of child sexual exploitation/sexual assaults in 2005 - a number which does not include cases investigated by police agencies in other Mecklenburg cities and towns.

During the week, local elected officials, the CMPD, County staff and community members will be encouraged to work with community leaders to discuss topics such as abduction, sexual exploitation, health care and other safety messages. Here is a look at some of the planned outreach:

· A Health Educator in the School Health Program of the Mecklenburg County Public Health Department will share with teachers, children and youth in elementary and middle schools messages about child abuse, child endangerment, stranger danger and Internet safety. Identification kits provided by the NCMEC will be distributed through the child immunization clinics at the Health Department, and to select daycares in diverse communities.

· Posters will be displayed in County buildings such as the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, the Health Department, the Mecklenburg County Women’s Commission, libraries, and recreation centers. Materials about keeping children safe will be available, too.

· Information about the effort will be posted on the County supported Web site www.protectingkids.org  and the NCMEC site at www.missingkids.com.

· The new AMBER Alert postal stamp unveiling is 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 25, 2006, in Conference Rooms 1A and 1B at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, 601 East Trade Street in Charlotte.



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