RICHMOND, VA April 9 2017
Since January 1, 2017, 185 children have gone missing in the state of Virginia.
There are 34 children missing from the Central Virginia area, with nine from the City of Richmond, 12 from Chesterfield, 11 from Henrico, one from Petersburg, and one from Goochland.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are 898 children missing from all over the country.
"I'll tell you this. You'll give up everything you have to find your child,” explained Robert Smith with Child Shield. "Sometimes I talk to people and show them these numbers, and they really have no idea it's that bad,” explained Smith. “It's a situation where people need to be aware. "
Smith says the awareness will help people know what and who to look out for, so police can be notified if a child is seen.
"When 20 percent of all missing kids in the U.S. are from Virginia, we have a problem,” said Smith.
Robert Smith works to educate families through Child Shield. He spends time in schools and speaks at community events teaching children from a young age about safety, encouraging parents and teens to have open and honest relationships, especially in an age of technology. Smith says with so many kids on social media, it’s important for parents to be up to speed and informed especially when it comes to their teenagers.
"We have 180 something kids missing for this year. Something is happening. I'm assuming 180 something kids didn't just run away,” said Smith.
The uncertainty, of not knowing where and why a child is missing can be a scary reality for parents. It’s a reality we have seen in cases across the country, which is the reason Smith works to ensure more children come home.