Special Feature: Missing Children
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 424,066 National Crime Information Center entries for missing children in 2018. These children have gone missing for a variety of reasons – some have been abducted by a family member or stranger while others have run away from home.
The wide range of reasons why a child is missing makes these cases complex and multifaceted. But regardless of how a child became missing, timing is crucial. A rapid response from the community and law enforcement significantly increases the chance of successfully resolving a case.
For more than 20 years, the AMBER Alert system has been assisting families find their loved ones with alerts broadcasted to the community through radio, television, text, and other platforms. With funding support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), AMBER Alert is used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Indian Country, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 30 other countries.
As of September 2019, 967 children have been rescued specifically because of AMBER Alert.
Families traumatized by abduction are faced with the simultaneous challenge of quickly marshaling all available resources to recover their missing child while dealing with the devastation of their loss. It's important for these families to know that there are resources available to help them from OJJDP, the Office for Victims of Crime, and others.
In partnership with OJJDP, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers critical intervention and prevention services to families and supports law enforcement agencies in cases involving missing children.
Additionally, state and local law enforcement agencies, along with NCMEC, may enter missing children cases into the National Institute of Justice's National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) where the cases can be managed and investigative resources, like forensic services, can be used to support case management.
President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed May 25 to be National Missing Children's Day in 1983 to honor 6-year-old Etan Patz who vanished from a New York street in 1979. It has been recognized as such every year since.
National Missing Children's Day is dedicated to help remind parents, guardians, other trusted caregivers, and adult role models to make child safety and well-being a priority. It can be used to show appreciation for those who dedicate themselves to finding and safely bringing home those who may be missing. It serves as an annual reminder to the nation to continue efforts aimed at reuniting missing children with their families.
Visit the following pages for additional information and resources produced or sponsored by OJP and other federal sources:
- AMBER Alert Information
- Information for Families
- Information for Justice System Personnel