n 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) held the first art contest for fifth graders to bring more national awareness to the issue of missing children. The contest creates an opportunity for schools, law enforcement, and other child advocates to discuss the issues of missing and exploited children with youth, parents and guardians and to promote child safety. The poster contest is more than just an art contest, it is an awareness campaign. This year OJJDP is sponsoring its 14th annual competition.
Rachel Stevenson, the 2007 national poster contest winner, recently spoke about the importance of the contest and her participation in the National Missing Children’s Day Ceremony. She said:
“I learned the reality of abduction and the impact it makes on society, families, and friends of the victim. Before the ceremony, abduction seemed almost unreal to me. I never truly realized the severity of it until I met real people who had gone missing and families who had lost a loved one to abduction. It was truly an eye-opener.”