Would You Notice If You Encountered a Missing Child?

Missing child screenshot and poster1

Every day, 2,000 children are reported missing. It's a parents’ worst nightmare.

Missing persons posters are the best way to find them, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and NBC Connecticut went undercover and learned that the posters often go unnoticed.

NBC Connecticut reporter Monica Buchanan plastered missing child signs at Highland Park Market in Farmington and Allison, an NBC Connecticut employee's 6-year-old daughter, posed as our missing child.

Allison walking around inside the store with her dad for an hour to see if anyone would take notice.

Person after person walked into the grocery store without even noticing the missing child signs. Those who did see the posters, and even the few who stopped to take a closer look, walked right by Allison, often more than once.

"I don't know that I noticed anything weird. Was it the little girl in the carriage?" Ben Rosado, of Avon, said.

Our camera caught several people talking to Allison and her dad and still no one made the connection.

"I noticed the picture on my way in and on my way out. I kept staring at that girl but didn't think it could be her," Maura Raeburn, of Farmington, said.

One shopper, Joanne Jolly, said she noticed the little girl, but assumed Allison was OK.

"I thought she was with someone who was helping her. She didn't seem distraught," Jolly, of Farmington. said.

Police say this kind of mistake can be costly. Abducted children don't always act like they're in danger.

"Kids that age are often lied too. I think, a lot of times, you won't see any distress," Chief Paul Melanson, of the Farmington Police Department, said.

Allison's father found the experiment and the reactions of shoppers alarming.

"I'm surprised and shocked. I figured someone would have helped or called the number on the poster," Allison's father said.
Chief Melanson said the problem with the signs is that most people really don't care because it's not personal to them.

"Photographs of people tend to be very difficult for people to identify with, unless it's a personal relationship," said Melanson.
Even so, Melanson said, the posters get the child's picture out there.

Shoppers we spoke too say this experiment was a valuable lesson learned.

"I will definitely pay more attention to those posters," said Rosado.

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