(7/9/2002) Missing child chains are most often true, but the limitations of e-mail as an information tool often render them useless - even dangerous - in a very short time.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
PLEASE LOOK AT PICTURE THEN FORWARD
We are asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE.
This 6 year old girl named Tierney Irwin, is missing. If anyone anywhere knows anything, sees anything, please contact your local police department and reference the below numbers ASAP We are including a picture of her. All prayers are appreciated!! It only takes 2 seconds to forward" this on, if it was your child, you would want all the help you could get. PLEASE!!!
(Please take a moment to visit our site and view some other children, join us if you wish, or just reply with a kind word to let us know you care!) http://www.elostchildren.org
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Despite a strong urge to help out, there are many reasons not to forward missing child chain letters. This letter demonstrates several, including:
It's not dated. Many missing kid chain letters continue to circulate long after the child has been recovered. This creates a major hassle for all parties involved, including the parents and law enforcement officials.
It's not particularly well-written, leading many to doubt its authenticity.
It contains no helpful information, such as the child's height, weight, last known location, date of disappearance, nature of disappearance, possible location, etc.
While it contains a link to more information and a photo, the contact numbers have already been lost and the rest is subject to loss or alteration as it circulates.
Unfortunately, the story of Tierney Irwin is true. In the U.S., the Center for Missing and Exploited Children is the authority on missing child cases. Their poster on the Irwin case provides a lot more information than elostchildren.org, including the name, photo and description of her abductor, as well as a centralized hotline for leads.
While elostchildren.org's mission is a noble one, their method needs work. Currently, they list about a half-dozen other cases, but only provide minimal information on each - little more than would be typically included in a chain letter, but not enough to be truly helpful. I sincerely hope they reconsider their operational model soon. Break this Chain.