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Former America’s Most Wanted TV host shares ways to stay safe

Cayla Rivas | The Feather Online

Feather journalists (left to right) Logan Lewis, ’20, Matthew Sue, ’18, and Addison Schultz, ’21, (right) pose with John Walsh (second from the right), during the San Joaquin Town Hall, April 18.

Television icon and victims advocate, John Walsh shared his story at the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall at William Saroyan Theater, April 18. Walsh is the former host of America’s Most Wanted, a TV show that ran on CBS for 25 years.

Walsh started this series after his son, Adam Walsh, was kidnapped an aisle away from his mother in a Sears store in 1981. Walsh and his wife embarked on a nightmarish search for their lost son. This proved to be difficult in this era, as government programs for searching for children was inept, according to Walsh.

However their search came to a terrible end when their son’s remains were found in a canal, some distance from where he was kidnapped. Naturally they were grief stricken at this news, but they also found a purpose in their tragedy. Walsh became tireless advocate for children and fought relentlessly to get greater protection for children from the government.

After the murder of his son, Walsh was bent on revenge. At the Donald Right’s morgue, a coroner began to talk to a rage-filled Walsh and ask him where his anger was taking him. In anger, Walsh responded harshly and told the man to stay out of his business. But as they continued to talk, the coroner told Walsh to use his resources to battle the FBI and Congress for the Missing Children’s Bill. He told Walsh to make sure his son didn’t die in vain.

Following his encounter with the coroner, Walsh began to go before the FBI. He went against those who said the missing children’s bill would never be passed and in his first meeting, most of the audience walked out. Despite his challenges, Walsh was able to get the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act passed in 2006.

As a result of his experiences, Walsh and his wife Reve started the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center in honor of their son. Now called the The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The foundation works to prevent child victimization and find missing children.

Cayla Rivas | The Feather Online

John Walsh first spoke to Town Hall Merit students at the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall at William Saroyan Theater before speaking to a larger audience in the main theater.

As the Walsh couple became more involved in the crime happening in America, John Walsh started the hit television series America’s Most Wanted, a crime show bringing criminals to justice. The show’s first capture was David James Roberts, a murderer on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.

By the end of the long-running show, Walsh had caught over 1,400 felons and rescued 61 children. With the success of America’s Most Wanted, Walsh also was in  another TV series: CNN’s The Hunt.

Walsh also talked about the need for gun control in America in response to the numerous shootings that have taken place in this nation. He believes that the gun control present in the nation is not what it should be.

“I have guns; I hunt quail; I am even an expert shot, but I am for strict gun control,” Walsh said. “I have been all over the world, and we are the most violent first world country with 30,000 homicides last year, 40,000,000 crime victims last year, over 300 stranger abductions of children. We are the richest and most powerful country in the world, and I’ve been trying to testify before congress about better gun control, having a registry of psychotic people who really shouldn’t have a gun. The background check is not a real background check.”

Having been involved with solving crimes against children, Walsh gave some advice on how to stay safe and out of harm’s way, especially when it comes to being on the internet.

“First of all be careful online,” Walsh said. “I catch guys online all the time. We caught about 1,200 guys last year that hacked into kid’s Facebook pages. Hacked in, not that you friended them, not that they were a friend of a friend. They hacked in and tracked girls. We have a girl who speaks at the national center who put too much on her Facebook page, and a pervert drove and kidnapped her in her driveway.

Cayla Rivas | The Feather Online

Walsh spoke to students about the importance of safety both in their communities, and on the internet.

“He knew exactly where she was, where she lived, when she went to cheer leading practice,” Walsh said. “He kept her in a coffin during the daytime, and tortured her on a live webcam during the night for three nights. Eventually our people and the FBI tracked him and saved her life. Being safe online is truly, truly important.”

As the internet becomes more central to society, online safety is becoming more and more important. There are a variety of things that people can do to stay safe on the internet. One thing people can do is be careful of what information they share, especially on social media.

Another safety tip would be to be careful who you talk to on the internet. This goes along with the idea of being careful around strangers. Many of the people on the internet are nice everyday people, but not all are so one should always exercise caution while writing.

For more information on how to stay safe on the internet check out StaySafeOnline for more safety tips.

To report a missing or lost child visit missingkids.com

For more articles check out: Econ Fair 2018 nets seniors entrepreneurial lessons or Community colleges offer perks, cost efficient classes.

This author can be reached via email.

Addison Schultz and Logan Lewis also contributed to this article.

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