Happy Birthday Colton Clark! Where in the world are you?

I am given to introspection on this day before National Missing Children’s Day. Two separate but connected items crossed my desk this morning. While scanning our files I came across a flyer for 10-year-old Colton. An Amber Alert was not issued, but after 3-days of searches the Sheriff issued a Missing Child Alert.  Colton’s whereabouts remain a mystery 5-years after the fact. Soon thereafter I received a letter from 10-year-old Dominic, whose modest donation demonstrated the giving and trusting nature of children and means more than he will ever know. One item was as heartbreaking as the other was heartwarming.

On April 20, 2006 at approximately 1:30 pm, Colton Clark disappeared from his adoptive parent’s home in Seminole, OK. On April 22, Seminole County Sheriff Joe Craig issued a BeyondMissing, Missing Child Alert to no avail. Instead of celebrating his fifteenth-birthday with his family today, Colton remains missing. Sheriff Craig believes that Colton is dead is based on a “gut feeling”, but there is no evidence that Colton is dead. Neither is there evidence that he is alive. Like so many before him, Colton Clark seems to have vanished off of the face of the earth. Occasional tips are still received, but they lead nowhere. As time passes, the leads become more infrequent as hope for Colton’s recovery diminishes.

Earlier today we received a handwritten letter from ten-year-old Dominic that stated in part, “I would like to help you help others and save kids lives”. The 3-one-dollar-bills enclosed overwhelmed me. Dominic, wise beyond his years, doesn’t realize that we don’t want his money. We want to protect him, not to take from him. Dominic’s gesture, so heartfelt and innocent, illustrates the impressionable nature of children, and the influence technology has upon their impressionable minds. Instead of spending Dominic’s generous donation we are going to frame it with his letter and hang it on the wall of our office as a reminder of our sacred promise to our children.

The world belongs to the children and we are only holding it in trust until they are old enough to take possession. For far too long the burden of child safety has been placed on the shoulders of the children. While it is important for kids to be knowledgeable and aware it is our responsibility as adults to ensure that every child has the opportunity to live in a safe and secure world. By addressing the escalating problem of crime we will attain our mission of stopping crimes against our children.