By Mary Boyd is VP of Government & Regulatory Affairs at West
West stands hand in hand with National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in their mission to locate missing children and prevent child exploitation. Locating child victims as quickly as possible and returning them to a place of safety and well-being is paramount.
Since 1984, NCMEC has served as the national clearinghouse and resource center for families, victims, private organizations, law enforcement and the public on issues relating to missing and sexually exploited children. There are several key factors to consider when developing best practices for responding to calls of missing, abducted and exploited children:
- The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 mandates missing-child cases are entered into NCIC by law enforcement within two hours of receipt.
- Family abductions occur when a member of the child’s family or someone acting on behalf of a family member takes or fails to return a child in violation of a court order, decree or other legitimate custodial rights. This is a crime in all 50 states.
- Of the nearly 25,000 runaways reported to NCMEC in 2017, one in seven were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
- Many children with autism wander or elope from safe environments, and some are unable to communicate their name and/or address. Finding and safely recovering a missing child with autism presents unique and difficult challenges for families, law enforcement, first responders and search teams. NCMEC has special search protocols and checklists to help.
NCMEC’s Missing Kids Readiness Project (MKRP) was specifically designed to help law enforcement agencies and public safety answering points (PSAPs) respond to calls regarding missing, abducted and sexually exploited children. To date, there are 283 MKRP agency members including 235 PSAPs and 48 Law Enforcement agencies, representing 41 states.
The program consists of a series of essential trainings for various personnel – chiefs, sheriffs and sworn personnel in law enforcement; managers and telecommunicators in the PSAP. NCMEC recognizes agencies for meeting essential training and policy requirements with a membership into the program. Learn more by visiting the NCMEC website for training and criteria.