There were many mistakes made and painful uncalled for statements issued during the search for Nurin Jazlin Jazimin and after her body was identified. There was an unprecedented outpouring of grief for the dead child, mostly because prior to the return of her remains, following almost a month of wide media coverage on the search for her, the photo of a dead child was splashed on the front pages of the main newspapers nationwide. The aim of the newspapers was purportedly to help identify the dead child whose body, abused and emaciated beyond recognition, was found dumped on the doorstep of a shophouse in a zipped sports bag. The shocking discovery and realisation that the unidentified body was indeed Nurin, after confirmation using DNA fingerprinting, was what made many of us take notice of Nurin and caused the entire nation to share in the grief of her parents and family. What followed soon after, the fiasco that ensued after the leak of her postmortem pictures in the internet, added inhuman insult upon inhumane injury. The nation was reeling in pain, some needed to lash out at the police, at authorities, at politicians and at her parents, whomever it was they thought could have and should have shielded and protected the child, and indirectly us too, from this barbaric monster who still lurks amongst us. The nation has not healed and many of us, including her family, are still awaiting closure. Will we ever find it?
In the case of little Adam Walsh, the missing boy whose head, but not his body, was recovered after he went missing from a Florida shopping mall, the same emotions ran through the entire United States when I was still there. A regular TV news addict, I too got caught up in the news reports, and along with millions of Americans, I waited and prayed for Adam’s safe recovery, hoping he had just strayed off with well-meaning people. Until the fateful newsflash came, of the discovery of his head, in the river near the shopping mall where he first went missing. I remember crying when I heard the news. I remember the inconsolable sorrow and I remember the pain we all shared, family members and complete strangers alike. Now, after so many years, I read about the closure of Adam’s case with a pang of nostalgia for the days when children were safe. I also feel gratifide that the US learned from Adam by improving and correcting mistakes made during the search for him. There is also this deep sense of sorrow that in Malaysia, we have still not learnt anything. from Nurin . Indeed, I salute the US police officers who apologised for the mistakes they made in the search for Adam, I commend them for admitting it and for taking steps to remedy their shortcomings. For their honesty and professionalism, Adam’s case can now be closed. And I, like the millions of people who were there when Adam went missing, still shed tears of grief together with his parents, for a child that left us this valuable legacy so that other parents would be spared this unbelievable sorrow of losing a child in such horrendous circumstances. Can we expect our police force to learn anything from Nurin Jazlin Jazimin? They won’t even mention her name.
Read this CNN news report and excerpt below:
Hollywood police were accused of some major blunders in their investigation, and Wagner apologized to the Walshes for those mistakes. The case, he said, “made us a better agency…. If this same type of situation were to occur today, I would tell you it would be a much quicker, much better, much cleaner outcome.”
“In 1981, when Adam disappeared, you couldn’t enter missing children information into the FBI computer system,” said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Walshes are co-founders of the center.
“You could enter information on stolen cars, stolen guns and stolen jewelry, but you couldn’t enter information on missing children,” he said.
Walsh, who before Adam’s murder was a hotel developer, went to Capitol Hill and began a second career as an activist for crime victims. He fought for passage of the 1982 Missing Children’s Act, which created the FBI’s national database. Today, there are at least 80,000 missing children listed in the database.
In 1981, when Adam was taken and killed, there was no coordinated national response to child abductions. The 18,000 police departments across the United States did not effectively communicate.
“Most police departments would tell you he probably just ran away, if he doesn’t come back, call us in 48 or 72 hours,” Allen said. “But, what we’ve found in 75 percent of cases, the child is dead within the first three hours. Waiting until the day after tomorrow is just too late.”
Walsh lobbied for more federal legislation and by 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was up and running. With it came an explosion of activism that resulted in the faces of missing kids being printed on milk cartons and on fliers that have gone into 85 million homes a week for 23 years.
There also have been advances in age enhancement photography. “Code Adam” is now an internal alarm at 70,000 department stores and shops that alerts employees to potential threats to children. The employees are trained to lock the doors when the alarm goes off.
“It’s a powerful example of the legacy of one little boy and his courageous parents,” Allen said.