When it comes to missing children, local law enforcement and the FBI are who many people think of. However, these are not the only agencies that are there to help. There are many things that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children does. This is an important organization that every parent should know about. There are a few things you should know to get a better understanding of this agency.
Who They Are
One thing you should know is what this organization offers. They are a non profit organization that is designed to help children who are victims of exploitation or who are missing. Missing children can include children who have wandered off, run away and even those that have been abducted. The goal of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is to bring children home safely to their families and take them out of situations where they are being exploited.
To accomplish the goals of reuniting children with their families they work with law enforcement officials, families and other professionals to bring home and help these children. The goal of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children since its inception in 1984 has been to create a national response for children who are missing or being sexually exploited to bring them home in a safe manner.
Statistics on Missing and Exploited Children
To better understand the importance of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children it is essential to first know the need for them. In 2013 there were 462,567 cases of missing children filed with the FBI. In 1990 alone there were 115 cases of traditional kidnapping. This means the child was kidnapped by someone they did not know, driven more than 50 miles and kept at least overnight with the intent to either kill them, ransom them or simply hold them indefinitely.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has helped tremendously since it began with finding these children and reuniting these children with their families. They have helped with nearly 200,000 cases of missing children. While their recovery rate in 1990 was only 62%, today it is at 97% which shows just how helpful they really can be in a situation like this.
Since 93% of children today go online, it is easy to see why exploitation has become the huge issue that it is. In 2006 there were 82.6% more cases of sexually exploited children than there were in 1994. Even just from 2004 to 2008 there was a 230% increase in complaints of online enticement of minors. This is why the work of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is so important. Since 2002, their Victim Identification Program has reviewed more than 115 million child pornography images to help identify the children and find those responsible for the crimes.
The History of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Another thing you should know about this organization is their history. They originally started in 1984 with just one office and a handful of workers. Today they have grown to have multiple regional offices. The regional offices are in California, New York, Florida and Texas. The main office is still in Washington DC. This office has grown over the years to employ over 350 people with more than 200 volunteers.
The Functions of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
They work 22 different functions with the cases for children as they are authorized by congress. Some of the things they have the ability to according to congress include:
- Run the national resource center
- Run the 24 hour hotline where people can report children missing or just get the information they need.
- Provide the appropriate government and non profit agencies with the information they need for the cases for the children.
- Coordinate programs both publicly and privately to find missing children as well as reunite them with their families
- Use different models and programs to find information that leads to finding missing children.
- Create reports for the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention providing the details of the case
- Lawfully use a child’s information, such as birth certificate, school records and other information to help find a child.
- Offer technical assistance and training to various government agencies in regards to cases of missing or exploited children.
- Help families and law enforcement find and recover children with national programs as well as internationally with a coordinated effort with the Department of State.
- Provide analytics on cases of missing or exploited children for law enforcement agencies to not only locate a child but to identify and catch the person responsible for the abduction.
- Assist in forensic consultation and examination to help identify deceased children who are unidentified. This is done through facial reconstruction as well as other techniques. There is also a victim identification program that works with identifying children who are the victims of sexual crimes such as child pornography.
- They also have a child safety and prevention program that helps children learn tips to keep them from becoming victims as well as the child ID which helps to ensure that children can be identified easier if something happens to them.
There are many things that this organization is authorized to do. Congress has given them a great amount of latitude to assist with cases involving missing and exploited children due to the nature of these cases and the fact that everyone wants the child to return home safe.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Hotline
The hotline number for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). When you call this number there are a few things you can do. One is to call them when your child goes missing so they can help coordinate a search and rescue mission. While you will still need to call the police first, once you have spoken with your local law enforcement it is best to give them a call.
This is also a number to call if you know of a child who is the victim of sexual exploitation. You can even call if you have a tip about cyber issues, such as child pornography that you find. They can help to identify the source of the issue as well as the child that is in danger.
Support for Victim’s Families
Having a child that is missing or has been sexually exploited is difficult. It is every parent’s nightmare and it can make life hard until the situation is resolved. This is why one of the functions of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is to help these families. They know that it is more than just the parents that are suffering during this time as other siblings can be very scared as well.
This is why they provide phone support for families to help them get the emotional support they need during this difficult time. They also help them find support groups as well as the different agencies and organizations that can help them through this process. They also have therapists who help with reunification of the family to help ensure that everyone has the right homecoming experience. They even have support for the siblings of the children.
Child Safety and Prevention Options with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
There are a few different programs that this organization offers to help children. The most popular aspect of this is the child ID kits. These are designed to give parents the identification kit for their child if they are ever the victim of abduction. The thing to keep in mind with this though is that it will need to be updated regularly.
Another program they offer is the NetSmartz program. There is a workshop as well as an informational seminar for children. This is designed to help them learn how they can be safe while they are online. The workshop is designed for children at least five years of age who may get online and the informational seminar is for parents to teach them about child safety online.
There are a few other safety and prevention initiatives that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children supports. One is Take 25 which is a movement to get parents to talk with their children for just 25 minutes about the danger of strangers and what to do if they are abducted. They also have programs to help parents learn what to do during national disasters as well as if their child does go missing.
How You Can Help
If you are interested in helping out with this organization, then there are a few things you can do. The best thing people can do is to call the hotline to report any missing or suspected or known exploitation of children. Keep in mind that you should call your local law enforcement agency first and then you will want to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Another way that you can help is to donate to this organization. This is important with a non profit organization as the proceeds they raise go directly to helping these children. There is a huge need for funds with all the different programs they offer to help reunite children with their families and bring them home safe.
You can also spread the word about the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and how they can help. If you have a website then you can add a banner to your site. Even on social media you can spread the word to bring awareness to the organization. You can also help to share stories of missing children to help bring them home safe.
You can also help your workplace become a partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They have partnerships with many companies through their Code Adam program. There are even several campaigns that this organization runs that your workplace can get involved in. If they do not want to, then you can always do this yourself.
Resources Offered By the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
You should know that this organization has a number of resources that you can find right on their website. There are resources for law enforcement officials for the training provided as well as aspects such as child victim identification. There are also many resources for families. This includes sex offender listings, information on what to do if your child goes missing, how to set up your child ID kit and much more. There is even a legal resources section where you can get the information you need to take care of the legal aspects of having a child that has been the victim of kidnapping, running away or sexual exploitation.
Do not wait until something happens to your child to take a look at the website for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. There is a lot of good information that you can find that will help you take care of your child and keep them safe. It is also a good idea to look at the information on what to do if your child goes missing or is the victim of sexual exploitation before anything actually happens. This will help you to prepare for this situation which will make it easier for you to handle.