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Missing posters: Lost cause for finding kids?

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  • HLN's Raising America team conducted an experiment to see if people pay attention to missing-child posters. The results may surprise you.
Missing posters: Lost cause for finding kids?

Do missing children posters work?

Do missing children posters work?

Editor's note:  The child shown in the picture above is not (and was not) actually missing. The "Raising America" team created the posters as part of a social experiment. Join "Raising America with Kyra Phillips" on HLN Thursday at 12 p.m. ET for our special, "Protecting Our Children: Taken." We’ll show you exactly what you need to do in the first 24 hours your child goes missing. We’ll also show you how you can track your child. We put three gadgets to the test. Click here to RSVP on Facebook and invite others to watch. 

We live in an increasingly connected, wired, and paperless society. That means we have more information than ever readily and immediately available -- such as when police put out an Amber Alert for a missing child.

But as you can see in any restaurant or workplace (or even, unfortunately, in traffic), in 2013, some people are so busy -- or so engrossed in their electronic devices -- that they don't pay much attention to the world around them.

In a July 2011 "Inside the FBI" podcast, the bureau estimated that 765,000 children go missing every year in the United States. That's one every 40 seconds.

With that in mind, "Raising America" decided to conduct a twofold social experiment:

Would people even bother to look at missing child posters plastered all around a busy city playground? And would anyone notice if the child on the poster was hiding in plain sight -- playing next to them or near them?

"Raising America" enlisted a good-natured six-year-old to pose for the flyers, then spend two days playing on a city park's playground in Atlanta's notorious August heat and humidity, waiting to see if anyone recognized him.

The experiment elicited a full range of responses, from people not even glancing at the posters to people calling the number listed on the bottom of the flyer, trying to reach the boy's parents.

Our crew spent fewer than three hours at the park each day. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) says the first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child.

If your child ever disappears, don't give up hope! NCMEC says 97% of children who go missing are found.

And as our experiment proved, while some people admit they ignore missing posters and others say they don't want to be "nosy," quite a few people will get involved, stay alert, and help bring missing-child scenarios to happy conclusions.

For more conversations like this, watch HLN every week day at 12 p.m. ET. And be sure to tweet @KyraHLN with the #RaisingAmerica hashtag or leave your thoughts on Facebook.com.

 

 

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