Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: A little girl named Krystava Patients Schmidt is missing from her Minnesota home.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
<Origins: It's hard not to be sympathetic to a plea to help find a missing child. The terror the parent is facing is unimaginable, and it strikes right to the hearts of all who receive the story.
There's one problem with turning to the online community for help in locating a missing child: how do you then tell them the hunt is off?
In this case, the missing child was safely returned to her home two days after her
All's well that ends well. Unfortunately, for the police it didn't end for a long time. Concerned phone calls about Krystava continued to flood the City of Mounds View police thanks to this cyber-plea for help. Manpower that could have been going towards catching criminals and keeping other little kids safe was expended in explaining to caller after caller that the little girl had been returned unharmed and was now home. Meanwhile, even as police were reassuring callers, concerned netizens continued to forward this plea to even wider circles of acquaintance, thereby setting up the Mounds View police force to field even more inquiries.
If at this point you're still tempted to see the problem as one of asking the police department to handle the occasional call or two about the case, consider this: According to a
In the summer of 1999, a full year after Krystava was back from her two-day absence, the Mounds View police department revamped its phone system to include a recorded message about the recovery of Krystava Patients Schmidt. Callers now have to first listen to this message before their calls are connected to the dispatcher. So far there has yet to have been a case of an emergency situation made worse by the caller first having to sit through a message about the found child, but it's easy to see how such a delay in the wrong situation could have tragic consequences.
If you get a cybersolicitation to aid in the hunt for a missing child, still your natural desire to help long enough to first do a bit of checking. Look to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for information about the child in question. If you don't find the child listed on their pages, call them at
We all want to make the world a better place, but sometimes in our haste to do so, we actually make it worse. Think before you hit the "forward to all" button.
Barbara "sometimes it's not the kid that's missing, it's the information" Mikkelson
Last updated: 27 March 2005
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