First Lady Ann Scott offers a hug to Sheila Clifton-DeLongis, whose daughter Maddie was abducted and killed in 1998.
Tallahassee, Florida - An emotional ceremony at the state Capitol Monday showed the enduring pain that parents suffer after losing a child.
But as one parent said, it helps to know others care and want to help.
Gov. Rick Scott and his wife Ann offered sympathetic hugs and a shoulder to cry on for parents at the 14th annual Missing Children's Day ceremony. Families received yellow roses and they placed the flowers next to pictures of their loved ones.
Gov. Scott signed an executive order Monday designed to help Florida respond more effectively to missing person reports.
The order requires all state agencies under the governor's control to post photos of missing people in public areas, such as state highways, rest stops, toll booth plazas and state facilities. Agencies must also share information about missing people on their websites.
Scott said Florida has organized seven "child abduction response teams" around the state. Plus, he said Florida continues to crack down on sexual predators who use the Internet to try to meet children.
"Who in their right mind is doing these things to our children? You just cannot imagine. During a six-week period this summer, the Florida Sheriff's Task Force arrested 119 sexual offenders and predators. Thank goodness."
Gov. Scott recognized citizens and law enforcement officers for their efforts to keep children safe over the past year.
Sgt. Ronald Mitchell and his canine partner Gunny won an award for finding a lost four-year-old boy in Wakulla County. K-9 Gunny and Sgt. Mitchell tracked the boy for more than a mile in the woods before they found him. Then Sgt. Mitchell carried the child on his back out of the woods.
Kaylee Bragg of Davie won an essay contest for fifth graders on Internet safety for children. She told students to keep three rules in mind when they're on the Web: don't offer any personal details, only connect with people you know, and tell an adult if something on the Internet makes you uncomfortable.
"One of the most important rules when surfing the Web is nothing personal. Never give out any personal information unless an adult says it's OK. Your name, address, phone number, email address, school or location of your home or school is considered personal. Photos of you or your family should only be shared with others that your parents have approved."
Sheila Clifton-DeLongis, whose eight-year-old daughter Maddie was abducted and killed in 1998, received an award for helping create "Camp Maddie." The camp is designed to help children and teenagers who lost a loved one because of murder.
Clifton-DeLongis urges parents to teach their children always to be vigilant around strangers and even neighbors.
"I hate to tell children they can't trust anybody because there are so many good people in this world but they cannot let their guard down for anyone they do not know, even someone that they do know. In this case, he was my neighbor across the street."
Last year police handled more than 40,000 reports of missing children in Florida.
You can sign up to receive AMBER Alerts via text message or email at www.missingchildrenalert.com.