National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
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The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is a private, non-profit organization established in 1984 by the United States Congress. In September 2013, the United States House of Representatives, United States Senate, and the President of the United States voted to reauthorize $40 million in funding for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as part of Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 3092; 113th Congress). Current chair of NCMEC is child safety advocate Patty Wetterling, mother of Jacob Wetterling.
Founding and early years
The formation of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was spurred by notable child abductions, such as the 1979 abduction of six-year-old Etan Patz from New York City, and the 1981 abduction and murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh from a shopping mall in Hollywood, Florida. Because police had the ability to record and track information about stolen cars, stolen guns, and even stolen horses with the FBI's national crime computer, it was believed that the same should be done with children. In 1984, the U.S. Congress passed the Missing Children's Assistance Act, which established a National Resource Center and Clearinghouse on Missing & Exploited Children. On June 13, 1984, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was formed by President Ronald Reagan in a White House ceremony to maintain those resources. The national 24-hour toll-free missing children's hotline 1-800-THE-LOST was also established.
Primarily funded by the Justice Department, the NCMEC acts as an information clearinghouse and resource for parents, children, law enforcement agencies, schools, and communities to assist in locating missing children and to raise public awareness about ways to prevent child abduction, child sexual abuse and child pornography. John Walsh, Noreen Gosch, and others advocated establishing the center as a result of frustration stemming from a lack of resources and coordination between law enforcement and other government agencies.
The Center provides information to help locate children reported missing (by parental abduction, child abduction, or running away from home) and to assist physically and sexually abused children. In this resource capacity, the NCMEC distributes photographs of missing children and accepts tips and information from the public. It also coordinates these activities with numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies.
During the mid to late 1980s, the toy Teddy Ruxpin became the "Official Spokesbear" for the center at the height of his popularity. Due to this partnership, some stories featured extra information for kids to stay safe from abductions, sexual predators, etc. This also caused his animated series to feature a clip titled "Protect Yourself" in which safety information for kids would be given by then popular child actors.
In September 2013, the United States House of Representatives, United States Senate, and the President of the United States voted to reauthorize $40 million in funding for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as part of Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 3092; 113th Congress).
Applications to the US seeking return of children
Effective September 5, 1995, applications seeking the return of or access to children in the US under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction were processed through the NCMEC for the US Department of State, Office of Children's Issues under contract with the US Department of State and the US Department of Justice. On April 1, 2008, the US Office of Children's Issues re-assumed U.S. Central Authority duties for processing incoming cases under the Hague Abduction Convention. As a result of its status as a government contractor as well as funding provided under the Missing Children Act and Missing Children's Assistance Act, the NCMEC received (as of 2008) US$40-million funding each year from the US Government.
In 1998, the NCMEC Board of Directors approved the creation of a separate international organization, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC); the two now act as sister organizations. ICMEC combats child sexual exploitation, child pornography, and child abduction. ICMEC held its first Board of Directors meeting in 1998. It was officially launched in April 1999.
ICMEC along with NCMEC runs a global missing children’s network of 22 countries. ICMEC has trained law enforcement personnel from 121 countries, works with law enforcement in over 100 countries, and has worked with legislatures in 100 countries to adopt new laws combating child pornography. ICMEC also encourages the creation of national operational centers built on a public-private partnership model, and leads global financial and industry coalitions to eradicate child sexual exploitation and child pornography. The Koons Family Institute on International Law and Policy is the International Centre’s research arm. In August 2008, ICMEC was granted "Special Consultative Status" by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to assist the UN with its expertise regarding child sexual exploitation and child abduction. ICMEC also works with the intergovernmental organization INTERPOL, the inter-continental organization the Organization of American States (the OAS), and the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
In 2007 NCMEC and Duracell along with the public relations firm PainePR produced a children's book title The Great Tomato Adventure: A Story About Smart Safety Choices along with a series of educational tools for parents and guardians of older children called Teachable Moments Guides. The books were produced and published by Arbor Books and the foreword was written by actress, and best-selling children's book author, Jada Pinkett Smith. Both tools were introduced as an extension of the successful child safety program that launched in 2006. The book was made available as a free download via the Power of Parents program Web site.
Notable board and staff members
- AMBER Alert
- Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP)
- Child abduction
- Child abduction alert system
- Code Adam
- Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography
- International child abduction
- National Child Victim Identification Program
- National Missing Children's Day
- United States Children's Bureau
- "H.R.3092 - E. Clay Shaw, Jr. Missing Children's Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2013". Open Congress.
- Clarity, James F.; Weaver Jr, Warren (1985-09-26). "BRIEFING; All Hail Bear". The New York Times.
- "Bringing Hague Return Proceedings in the United States". Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- "NCMEC Press Release".
- "Missing Children Website".
- "National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Law & Legal Definition". uslegal.com.
- "Missing Children Organizations; ICMEC (International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children)". Find Madeleine.
- "The Creation of ICMEC". ICMEC.
- Donald F. Sprague (2012). Investigating Missing Children Cases: A Guide for First Responders and Investigators. CRC Press. pp. 167–68. ISBN 1439860637.
- Babak Akhgar, Andrew Staniforth, Francesca Bosco (2014). Cyber Crime and Cyber Terrorism Investigator's Handbook. Syngress. p. 138. ISBN 0128008113.
- "Contact Us". ICMEC.
- "About the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children". ICMEC.
- "Weekends in the Hamptons, weekdays in Manhattan". New York Social Diary. June 22, 2010.
- Christopher Meyer (2011). DC Confidential. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 1780220774.
- "INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN GRANTED SPECIAL STATUS WITH UNITED NATIONS". August 12, 2008.
- Rhona Schuz (2014). The Hague Child Abduction Convention: A Critical Analysis. A&C Black. pp. 82–83. ISBN 1782253084.
- The Great Tomato Adventure: A Story About Smart Safety Choices[dead link]
- Official website
- The Global Missing Children's Network[dead link]
- Dedication of NCMEC's headquarters building
- The Nest Foundation
- US Hotline reports vast improvements in removal of child abuse websites, EDRi-gram newsletter - Number 9.16, 24 August 2011
- Operation Cross Country recovering victims of child sex trafficking, FBI
- Child Alert: Help Us Identify John Doe 29, FBI