Missing and Exploited Children: Background, Policies, and Issues [April 29, 2015] [open pdf - 501KB]
"Beginning in the late 1970s, highly publicized cases of children abducted, sexually abused, and sometimes murdered prompted policymakers and child advocates to declare a missing children problem. At that time, about 1.5 million children were reported missing annually. Though dated, survey data from 1999 provide the most recent and comprehensive information on missing children. The data show that approximately 1.3 million children went missing from their caretakers that year due to a family or nonfamily abduction, running away or being forced to leave home, becoming lost or injured, or for benign reasons, such as a miscommunication about schedules. […] The number of children who are sexually exploited is unknown because of the secrecy surrounding exploitation; however, in the 1999 study, researchers found that over 300,000 children were victims of rape; unwanted sexual contact; forceful actions taken as part of a sex-related crime; and other sex-related crimes that do not involve physical contact with the child, including those committed on the Internet. […] Since 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has served as the national resource center and has carried out many of the objectives of the act in collaboration with OJJDP [U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention] . In addition to NCMEC, the MEC program supports (1) the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program to assist state and local enforcement cyber units in investigating online child sexual exploitation; (2) training and technical assistance for state AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) Alert systems, which publicly broadcast bulletins in the most serious child abduction cases; and (3) other initiatives, including a membership-based nonprofit missing and exploited children's organization that assists families of missing children and efforts to respond to child sexual exploitation through training."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34050