A public service announcement sponsored by SSHE Society was recently released in Thailand that depicted the consequences of a mother's failure to watch her child. It not only served to educate citizens on the risks of child abduction, but it also illustrated a rather moving story of a single-mother and the bond she shared with her daughter, Ploy.
One sunny day, Ploy Prae and her mother visit a local park. Like many children, Ploy loved to play in boxes and carried one with her as she walked through the park. Her mother receives a business call and Ploy continues to play in her box a few feet away from the bench where her mother is sitting. Ms. Prae warns Ploy to stay close and attempts to keep a watchful eye on her daughter from where she is sitting. However, with her attention momentarily away from Ploy as she takes a note, a man hidden in the seclusion of the trees that surround the park begins to approach the little girl using a child's toy to lure her out of the box.
A few minutes later, Ms. Prae senses there is no movement in the box and hangs up the phone as she calls out to Ploy. Observing that her child is not in the box as she had expected, she becomes frantic and begins searching the park for her daughter. She asks bystanders if they have seen the little girl and eventually notifies the park security that her child is missing.
Ms. Prae takes the only evidence she found of her missing daughter to the authorities, a bracelet that was left in Ploy's box. The officer assures her that they will do everything they can to find her daughter. Left with no other choice but to go home without her daughter, Ms. Prae returns to her house and waits for a call from the police. When the call finally arrives two days after Ploy's disappearance, Ms. Prae is notified of evidence recovered by the investigation. They found the body of a little girl roughly the same age as Ploy. The girl was struck, raped, and burned alive. The officer asks Ms. Prae to identify the girl's clothing that was found near the scene of the crime. As she examines the clothing, she is unable to identify anything until she observes the remnants of a charred toy that holds a striking resemblance to her daughter's bracelet. Despite the similarity, she fervently denies that it belonged to Ploy.
As time passes, she begins to question whether the body that was recovered could be her daughter's. Unable to stop herself from envisioning what happened to the little girl, Ms. Prae is beside herself with guilt and torment as she begins to mourn the loss of her daughter. The following morning, the police show up to her door as the story behind Ploy's discovery begins to unravel.
It is important to note that not all child abductions have a happy ending. Over 797,000 children are reported missing annually to the Federal Bureau of Investigation through the National Crime Information Center. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is currently working to aid the FBI in over 725 cases involving the recovery of unidentified children's remains. Of these cases, only 98 have been successfully identified. However, the term "successfully" is used lightly considering these children were not discovered and returned to their loved ones alive. In total, NCMEC is responsible for the recovery of approximately 169,000 children since its founding in 1984. This means that generally 63% of missing children are recovered each year and only 57% are found alive. Despite these figures, there is no real way of calculating the total missing children in the U.S. seeing as many go unreported due to teenage runaways and the fear of losing child custody.
The story of Ploy Prae is an effective public service announcement that cautions parents of the potential repercussions of momentarily allowing their child out of their sight. Although, what should resonate most deeply with the readers of this article is the fact that Americans are not exposed to these kinds of announcements on a regular basis.
The PSA's that circulate our nation are often sugarcoated as not to frighten child viewers. However, this message is as important to child viewers as it is to adults. We cannot continue to shelter our children through their upbringing. It is essential that our children are aware of the threats that await them beyond the threshold of their home. Had Ploy been warned to scream if a stranger approached her and was aware of bad people who use false promises, toys, candy, and animals to persuade children away from their parents, she may not have been abducted. Instilling fear in our youth is by no means favorable but it is a necessary tactic to ensure safety and survival in today's society.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children