At the beginning of the year, Robyn Bennett found out her 16-year-old daughter was missing, one of thousands of juveniles reported missing in Texas every year. Months later, Bennett is still looking for her.
To help with this effort, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas and the Texas Center for the Missing are partnering to show digital billboards with her missing child, Kristen Galvan of Spring, and contact information for anyone who may know her whereabouts. The message will be broadcast about 1,250 times every day on each of the 10 billboards throughout the Houston area.
Clear Channel Outdoor and Texas Center for the Missing representatives joined Bennett in the Humble Plaza Shopping Center parking lot Thursday at the site of a billboard displaying the message.
“Initially, we will create over two million market impressions,” Clear Channel Outdoor Vice President of Public Affairs Lee Vela said. “Maybe the one person who needs to see Kristen’s picture may know something and call in with a tip.”
Clear Channel Outdoor, who runs the billboards, has worked for years to try to find missing children through programs like the Amber Alert Program with the Texas Center for the Missing, Vela said. They have had success in the past as well. Last year, Vela said they found a young woman missing in Houston three weeks after the program began and she was taken home safely. Another woman in San Antonio was also found safely, both primarily because of the billboard program.
Bennett said she last saw her daughter New Year’s Day, when she went to stay at her grandmother’s house in The Woodlands for winter break. Bennett called the police less than a day after she found out her daughter was missing.
“She took off,” Bennett said. “My mom called me immediately when she realized Kristen was gone.”
Bennett said this problem goes deeper than just a missing child who ran away.
“Out of 400,000 missing children every year, 70% of those go to human sex trafficking,” Bennett said. “These predators are preying on our children.”
There haven’t been any new leads for the case in months, but Bennett hasn’t given up hope.
“Somebody knows something,” she said. “She’s got to be somewhere.”
Beth Alberts, CEO for the Texas Center for the Missing, said there are more than 10,000 missing children in the greater Houston region every year. Since 2000, the Amber Alert system has issued 196 Amber Alerts for 237 missing children, and they have had an 89% success rate.
“We’re really proud of that, but it’s not enough for us,” Alberts said. “All of these children need to be brought home to their families.”
Alberts said parents do not have to wait 24 hours to report someone missing; they should report a missing person immediately and make sure the information is given to the police.
“These cases can all be solved if we all work together and look for these missing children actively and report what you see if you see something,” Alberts said.