Note: we are republishing this story to raise awareness about the increase in reported human trafficking incidents and abductions in America during the coronavirus pandemic.
One girl found an image of herself labeled as a missing child on milk carton while grocery shopping in Colorado with her stepfather.
Bonnie Lohman was only 7 years old when she stumbled upon the disturbing picture some time in the 1980s, 99 Percent Invisible reports.
Because she could not read, she didn't understand the words “MISSING CHILD” posted above her photo.
At age 3, her mother and stepfather had kidnapped her from her biological father.
She spent the next few years with them, living in various shacks, from Hawaii to Saipan.
Strangely, her stepfather bought that milk, and also let the child cut her photo out and keep it.
He told her to promise to keep it a secret, but police stumbled upon it after she left it at a neighbor's house.
Authorities promptly called Bonnie’s biological father and the two were reunited.
Even though 5 billion milk cartons have featured images of missing children, Lohman’s case was one of the few successful ones.
These campaigns did lead to some progress, helping raise awareness and contribute to the Missing Children Assistance Act.
Still, it was discontinued in the mid-1980s and later replaced with the far more successful Amber Alert system, Canarsie Courier reports.
“In our eyes, the Milk Carton Campaign was highly visible whereby children were found and hundreds of families were impacted,” said co-founder and treasurer of Operation Lookout Melody Gibson.
“To our knowledge, this effective public service announcement was removed from public view following media stories about a couple of mothers worrying that their children would look at their school lunchtime milk carton and assume they, too, could become a victim of a child abduction.”
“While this erroneous notion had no historic merit, it was negative enough that eventually the donor milk companies stepped back and eventually the project dissolved,” she added.
Meanwhile, authorities believed it was causing mental health issues among children, with some complaining children were frightened seeing the milk cartons at school.