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Ohio Attorney General Posts 2023 Missing Children Status Report

May 25th has come and gone, with barely a ripple in the media supporting public awareness of National Missing Children's Day. Every year, the Ohio Attorney General posts the annual missing children report. 2023 saw an uptick in the numbers of Ohio children going missing. This led to multiple news media reports suggesting that there was some level of “new” issue causing so many of our children to be “misplaced”. The erroneous reports, though accurate in the initial numbers, were inaccurate in follow-up, causing a near-panic in many communities.

Statistics, garnered from The National Crime Information Center (NCIC), indicate only the tip of the missing child perspectives. While Ohio reported 17,405 missing in 2023 compared to 15,555 in 2022, the real figures are represented by the number of recoveries conducted by local, state, and federal law enforcement. Of the 17,405 missing children reported in 2023 ~98% (approximately 17,057) were located and returned home. According to some statistics, in many cases, the missing youth refused to be returned home, leading to the disparity of recovery numbers. The majority of missing Ohio children were between the ages of 13 and 17 and the split between males and females was 7,829 and 9,571 respectively. Interestingly enough, the month by month figures for missing youth are relatively consistent at 1,200-1,700 for each month. Sadly, in 2023, five of the missing children were found deceased.

Please take a moment to read it over. Our children cannot be “misplaced” or reduced to commodities by those who are less than ethical. Only through community awareness and action can we help reduce the numbers and categories of young human beings documented in this report.

The Ohio Special Response Team (OSRT) has multiple members who are trained for Child Abduction Response Team and Human Trafficking response operations as well as Lost Person Behavior Analysis. OSRT is aligned with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Team Adam, constantly ready to step up to assist law enforcement in conducting detailed searches for missing children (and adults) throughout the state.

Recently, one of the OSRT search K-9s, BESA, with handler Sarah Gentry, was the first search K-9 in the United States to qualify as a Human Trafficking Search Dog through the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA). OSRT is constantly training and expanding our capabilities to more effectively assist law enforcement and members of the Ohio communities in a wide range of missing persons search and rescue scenarios.

Interested in becoming part of the team? OSRT is constantly accepting volunteers. While most people want to become searchers, we also need support personnel who can work from home. These include individuals to assist in marketing, recruitment, and general back office tasks. In essence it means you can serve without becoming a ground pounder.

Ohio Special Response Team (OSRT) – OSRT is a multifaceted ESF-9 response team deploying primarily to search and rescue incidents in woodlands, suburban, and urban environments as well as disaster response, K-9 searches, and low/high angle rope rescue. OSRT functions in support of law enforcement and fire with 68 members in 7 Units throughout Ohio. OSRT members are trained in SAR as well as ICS Operations to function as force multipliers wherever there’s a need.


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