Then, at the start of the 1980s, the campaign grew to include all children whose whereabouts were unknown – not just the victims of child snatching. And when advocacy groups branched out even further by considering runaways in their evaluation, they realized just how many children were going missing each year. By the groups’ estimates, the number in fact reached the hundreds of thousands.
In response to such startling figures – as well as several infamous related crimes – people and businesses began to help the campaign. And in 1984 a number of dairy companies started to include images of missing children on the sides of their milk cartons. Some pizza restaurants did the same with their boxes, too, while photos of missing children also appeared on items such as grocery bags and envelopes.
At the same time, stories about missing children and kidnapping became part of a cultural conversation. The Berenstain Bears book series, for instance, taught children how to recognize “stranger danger.” Meanwhile, in the DC Comics books, reporter Lois Lane searched for children who had gone missing, and mystery novels had detectives looking for them too.