Today marks International Missing Children's Day

It is estimated 8 million children are reported missing each year

Today marks International Missing Children's Day

A file photo from an ICMEC report

Activities are being held around the globe to mark International Missing Children's Day today.

The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) wants to bring attention to and continue the search for the thousands of children who are missing.

It says efforts will raise awareness about the global problem of child abduction, as well as remind parents of steps they can take to help keep their children safe.

It is estimated 8 million children are reported missing each year around the world. Of that number, according to the latest US Department of Justice research, an estimated 800,000 children will go missing in the United States alone.

Last year, Americans rejoiced in the recovery of long-term missing children Amanda Berry, Gina De Jesus and Michele Knight. On this, the ICMEC says "In much of the world, this story was viewed as a uniquely American phenomenon. But it is not".

It cites the example of then-10-year-old Natascha Kampusch, who was abducted in Austria in 1998 and held by her abductor in a secret underground cellar for eight years before she escaped.

Amanda Berry, Gina De Jesus and Michele Knight were found in 2013

While in Belgium in 1996, Sabine Dardenne (12) was kidnapped by the infamous Marc Dutruox as she rode her bicycle to school. Sabine and Laetitia Delhez (14) were held in Dutruox's basement for three months before being rescued, though four other children were killed.

In India in 2006 parents claimed that the disappearance of their children was being ignored by authorities. When community leaders found the remains of a child, police started digging - and in 2007, as many as 17 skeletons of children were found.

Ultimately, the police reported at least 31 child victims.

The ICMEC says that great progress is being made in the recovery of missing children un most of the developed world (North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand) and that there are strong laws on missing children, protocols in place, and central registries.

Child abduction alerts, patterned after the U.S. AMBER Alert, have been implemented in 19 countries, including Ireland.

But it says there are still many countries in which most missing child cases are never reported to authorities.

"When a child is reported as missing in many countries there is little understanding of the risk that child faces and no system in place to ensure rapid and efficient response in order to secure a quick recovery. In most of the developing world including much of Africa, Asia and Latin America no one is counting missing children, there are no specific laws on missing children, no established protocol and no central missing child registries, there are no mandates to report and no established system to respond" it says.

"Every child deserves a safe childhood" said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of ICMEC. "It is essential that governments around the world make a commitment to locate and recover missing children. They need to ensure rapid response to missing child cases, and provide law enforcement with the resources and training they need for handling missing child cases".

The observance of May 25th as Missing Children's Day began in the United States in 1983. On May 25th, 1979 Etan Patz (6) disappeared from a street corner in his New York neighborhood while he was walking to school.

A photo of Etan, taken by his professional photographer father, generated national and international media attention and became a symbol of the missing children movement. In 1983 US President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25th as National Missing Children's Day.