National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is a private, nonprofit 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 reauthorized the allocation of $40 million in funding for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as part of Missing Children's Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2013.[1] The current chair of the organization is child safety advocate Patty Wetterling, mother of Jacob Wetterling.[2] NCMEC handles cases of missing or exploited children from infancy to young adults through age 20.[3]

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
NCMEC logo.png
FormationJune 13, 1984; 36 years ago (1984-06-13)
  • United States
John F. Clark


Founding and early yearsEdit

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was founded in 1984, spurred by notable child abductions such as the 1981 abduction and murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh from a shopping mall in Hollywood, Florida and the 1979 abduction of six-year-old Etan Patz from New York City. 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 to find child victims and the procurers who exploited them.[4]

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, formed by Adam Walsh's parents, Revé and John Walsh, alongside other children's advocates, was officially opened by President Ronald Reagan in a White House ceremony. The national 24-hour toll-free missing children's hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST, was also established.[5]

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 a national coordination between law enforcement and other government agencies.[citation needed]

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.[6][7][8]

During the mid to late 1980s, the toy Teddy Ruxpin became the "Official Spokesbear" for the center at the height of his popularity.[9] 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. The relationship with the Teddy Ruxpin bear ended when it was revealed that the toy was being produced by child labor.

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).[1]

The Center not only specializes in locating missing children, but identifying the deceased. There are a number of unidentified decedents in the country, some of which are children, teenagers and young adults. Like missing children, posters are created for the cases and, is possible, show forensic facial reconstructions of the subject that show an estimation of their appearance while alive.[10] The reconstructions that the NCMEC creates have been regarded to be state-of-the-art and have been stated to have been mistaken for photographs.[11]

On April 6, 2018 it was announced in Forbes magazine that the United States Department of Justice had seized and shutdown the website of frequent nemesis of NCMEC,, on the grounds that it had frequently facilitated human trafficking. NCMEC released a statement: "The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children just learned that was seized by the FBI, IRS, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with analytical assistance from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center. This is another step in the years-long fight against the exploitation of child victims who were bought and sold for sex on #NCMEC is waiting alongside the rest of the world to see what will come next. We stand by the victims and their families as they process this news and continue to fight for justice against those who profited from their abuse. #SexTrafficking.[12][13]


The NCMEC operates the CyberTipline which was established by Congress to process reports of child sexual exploitation (including child pornography, online enticement, and contact offenses). The NCMEC reviews these reports and shares them with the appropriate law enforcement agency or Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force. In addition to the information provided by the reporting party, NCMEC typically adds geolocation information (if appropriate) and cross-references identifying information such as email address, username, or IP address with existing CyberTipline Reports.[14]

Anyone can make a report to the CyberTipline but reporting is required for certain electronic service providers (ESP) who become aware of the presence of child pornography on their systems.[15] While ESPs are not required to actively scan for or try to detect child pornography, many of them do. In 2018, the CyberTipline processed 18.4 million reports.[16]

Applications to the US seeking return of childrenEdit

Alicia Kozakiewicz at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's headquarters in Alexandria, VA

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.[17] 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.[18]


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.[19][20][21][22] ICMEC combats child sexual exploitation, child pornography, and child abduction.[23][24][25][26] ICMEC held its first Board of Directors meeting in 1998.[27] It was officially launched in April 1999.[22][28]

According to data compiled by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, between 2011 and 2015, 45 percent of children reported missing in America were found after being missing between six and 11 months; 27 percent were found when missing for between one and two years; 19 percent when missing for between two and five years; 5 percent between six and 10 years; 3 percent when missing between 11 and 20 years; and only 1 percent of missing children and found when missing for over 20 years.[29]

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.[30] 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.[31]

NCMEC is an associate of PACT Parents and Abducted Children Together in the United Kingdom.[32]


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 website.[33]

Notable board and staff membersEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "H.R.3092 - E. Clay Shaw, Jr. Missing Children's Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2013". Open Congress. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014.
  2. ^ "Patty Wetterling" (PDF). National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 26, 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  3. ^ "Key Facts". Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  4. ^ Profiles in Evil ISBN 978-0-70885449-5 p. 62
  5. ^ "The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children". Archived from the original on October 29, 2012.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Clarity, James F.; Weaver Jr, Warren (September 26, 1985). "BRIEFING; All Hail Bear". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Rodewald, Adam (August 5, 2013). "Unidentified murder victim a 'total nightmare' case for detectives". Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  11. ^ "Missing children group talks about creating sketch for Deer Island girl". My Fox Boston. Fox News. July 6, 2015. Archived from the original on July 10, 2015. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  12. ^ "DOJ Seizes Weeks After Congress Passes Sex Trafficking Law". April 6, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  13. ^ "NCMEC statement on #Backpage developments". April 7, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  14. ^ "Understanding NCMEC CyberTipline Reports". tracedf-new. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  15. ^ "18 U.S. Code § 2258A - Reporting requirements of providers". LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  16. ^ "NCMEC Data". Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  17. ^ "Bringing Hague Return Proceedings in the United States". Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  18. ^ "NCMEC Press Release". Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  19. ^ "Missing Children Website". Archived from the original on March 15, 2015.
  20. ^ "National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Law & Legal Definition".
  21. ^ "Missing Children Organizations; ICMEC (International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children)". Find Madeleine.
  22. ^ a b "The Creation of ICMEC". ICMEC. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014.
  23. ^ Donald F. Sprague (2012). Investigating Missing Children Cases: A Guide for First Responders and Investigators. CRC Press. pp. 167–68. ISBN 1439860637.
  24. ^ Babak Akhgar; Andrew Staniforth; Francesca Bosco (2014). Cyber Crime and Cyber Terrorism Investigator's Handbook. Syngress. p. 138. ISBN 0128008113.
  25. ^ "Contact Us". ICMEC. Archived from the original on February 14, 2015.
  26. ^ "About the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children". ICMEC. Archived from the original on February 14, 2015.
  27. ^ "Weekends in the Hamptons, weekdays in Manhattan". New York Social Diary. June 22, 2010.
  28. ^ Christopher Meyer (2011). DC Confidential. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 1780220774.
  29. ^ "National Expert Gives Opinion on Mendocino County Cold Case IDs". Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  30. ^ "INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN GRANTED SPECIAL STATUS WITH UNITED NATIONS". August 12, 2008. Archived from the original on September 30, 2008.
  31. ^ Rhona Schuz (2014). The Hague Child Abduction Convention: A Critical Analysis. A&C Black. pp. 82–83. ISBN 1782253084.
  32. ^
  33. ^ The Great Tomato Adventure: A Story About Smart Safety Choices Archived June 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit