Iowan History: Missing Children on Milk Cartons
I love to learn, and one of my favorite ways is through podcasts. Listening to a great podcast allows me to multitask while learning something new about the world. Today one of my favorites (99% Invisible) taught me some history about our own state.
Iowa was the first state to enact the 'missing children' photos on milk cartons. Johnny Gosch, a 12-year-old paperboy vanished in 1982 in Des Moines. A lack of missing children led to a lack of proper law and procedure. Children were treated as adults in missing persons cases and thus the police had to wait 72 hours before even starting to search. After a second abduction two years later, the community bonded together to come up with creative ideas to help start the search on their own. According to an article in TodayIFoundOut, local Anderson-Erickson Dairy Farms president, Jim Erickson, decided to put photos and short bios of the missing children on the sides of the dairy's milk cartons. The thought being that families would gather for breakfast in the morning and not only be able to familiarize themselves with the children but it also served as a warning to children eating breakfast. A week later, Prairie Farms Dairy printed photos on their cartons as well.
If this was so popular, why did this tradition fade out? It terrified people. There was something about the changing rotation of kids on the cartons that reminded the national community that abduction was a reoccurring problem facing the country. Beyond that, the success rate was very poor. Johnny's case has become the subject of many cold case documentaries and has fascinated media for years. Though in the 99% Invisible podcast he does go into detail about a success story.
You can listen to the full podcast here: 99% Invisible