The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, (NCMEC), is a private, (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization which was created in 1984. The mission of the organization is to serve as the nation’s resource on the issues of missing and sexually exploited children. The organization provides information and resources to law enforcement, parents, children including child victims as well as other professionals.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was born in a time of tragedy. In 1979, six year old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school and was never seen again. Twenty-nine children were abducted and murdered in Atlanta, Georgia. And in 1981 six year old Adam Walsh was abducted from a Florida shopping mall and found brutally murdered. There were others.
In 1984, police could enter information about stolen cars, stolen guns, and even stolen horses into the FBI’s national crime computer – but not stolen children. That is no longer the case. More missing children come home safely today and more is being done today to protect children than anytime in the nation’s history.
In 1984, the U.S. Congress passed the Missing Children’s Assistance Act which established a National Resource Center and Clearinghouse on Missing and Exploited Children. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was designated to fulfill this role.
On June 13, 1984, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was opened by President Ronald Reagan in a White House Ceremony. The national 24-hour toll-free missing children’s hotline 1-800-THE-LOST opened as well.
28 Years of Progress
In June of 2012, NCMEC observed its 28th year in operation and a quarter century of progress on behalf of children. Twenty-eight years later NCMEC has become the leading nonprofit organization in the U.S. working with law enforcement to address the problems of missing and sexually exploited children. Today the work of the organization includes nineteen different Congressional mandates.
Today law enforcement is better trained, better prepared and responds more swiftly and effectively than ever before. There is better law and better technology. Parents are more alert and aware. Yet there are still thousands of children who do not make it home each year, and more who fall victim to sexual exploitation.
An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing each year – more than 2,000 children every day. An estimated 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized before age 18. Yet, only 1 in 3 will tell anyone.