Elizabeth Smart just one of many PDF poster children reported missing
Numerous sites offer publicity posters and volunteer rescue resources in PDF

14 March 2003

By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor

[Excerpted from Planet PDF Weblog for week of March 10, 2003]

Maintaining a Web site is a continuous gardening job, an ongoing chore that can include updating previously posted information and adding fresh, relevant content on a regular basis. When the focus of a site, however, is missing children, such updating may not often be a pleasant experience -- outcomes of reports, when they are known, typically don't have happy endings.

Yesterday's news that kidnapped Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart turned up not only alive, but in reasonably close proximity to the family home from where she'd been snatched at knifepoint nine months earlier, was one of the exceptions. A number of governmental, organizational and personal Web sites that had previously included details of her disappearance were happily being updated as the report of her seemingly miraculous rescue circulated.


The FBI's site featuring missing children reports, for example, soon pronounced Smart "recovered." Likewise, the Laura Recovery Center's site, a source of many valuable resources for families and friends facing such painful ordeals, quickly changed its listing for Smart to "found." One site that perhaps understandably didn't get updated the same day was ElizabethSmart.com; one can imagine the site's content managers had better things to do immediately upon learning of her return home.


Although there's no indication they played any role in her discovery, especially considering that the case seemed all but permanently unsolved when the primary suspect died while being investigated, it's worth noting the prominent use of PDF at several of these sites, in the form of posters designed to raise public awareness and related documents developed to help organize and manage a rescue operation.


ElizabethSmart.com features a pair of PDF-based posters and various other resources in PDF, including a Child Safety Kit, a set of volunteer forms and a "Bulletin for Game Hunters," the latter to elicit search support during hunting season. The Laura Recovery Center site, source for some of the forms cited above, has a large assorted of related resources to help manage all facets of a post-abduction or child disappearance campaign -- even providing a way to create and directly email a PDF poster of a missing child, one of the forms of assistance it offered on its Elizabeth Smart page.

What the Elizabeth Smart recovery demonstrated, in addition to the family's perseverance despite the odds, was the value of an informed, alert public. PDF has a role in the resource mix, based on a sampling of missing children rescue sites.


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