Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Killing of Polly Klaas

Polly's Legacy

There are two organizations bearing the name of Klaas and dedicated to helping children.  One is the Polly Klaas Foundation.  It continues to work with law enforcement and the public to protect America's youngsters.  Its mission statement says the organization is "dedicated to educating the public on the prevention of child abduction, aiding in the search for missing children, and acting as a means to bring the issue of missing children to the forefront."  Jenni Thompson is the Director of Communications for the Polly Klaas Foundation.  "We've assisted over 4,900 families to date," she related, "and have about an 85% success rate.  Success is defined as kids coming home safely.  Over 800,000 children in the U.S. are either missing or abducted each year.  These include runaway children, children that are lost, children missing under suspicious circumstances where it is not known if they were abducted or not, and family as well as non-family abductions.  Everyone in the field of missing children, not just the Polly Klaas Foundation, now use the term 'non-family abductions' because rarely is it a complete stranger."

Marc Klaas began the Polly Klaas Foundation.  Since it is a non-profit group, it cannot engage in political lobbying.  Marc Klaas wanted to change laws so he left the foundation to start the Marc Klaas Foundation for Children, now known as the KlaasKids Foundation.  Like the Polly Klaas Foundation, KlaasKids seeks to increase knowledge of child safety issues; unlike it, KlaasKids also works for "stronger sentencing for violent criminals."

The life of pretty and talented Polly Klaas was  cut short in a horrible way.  However, she did not die in vain.  Her loss has inspired many people to work on behalf of America's children, and that inspiration has contributed to the rescuing of other children. Quite a legacy for a child who did not live to see her 13th birthday.


We're Following
Slender Man stabbing, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Gilberto Valle 'Cannibal Cop'