Missing and Exploited Children's (MEC) Program: Background and Policies [February 8, 2018] [open pdf - 760KB]
"Beginning in the late 1970s, highly publicized cases of children who were abducted, sexually abused, and sometimes murdered prompted policymakers and child advocates to declare a missing children problem. At that time, about 1.8 million children annually were reported to the police as missing. More recent data indicate that the number and rate at which children go missing has declined. A survey from 2013 provides the most recent and comprehensive information on missing children. The data show that about 238,000 children (3.1 per 1,000 children) were reported to law enforcement by their caretakers that year as missing 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. As a policy issue, missing children are often included in discussions of sexual victimization. Children who go missing--as well as children who are not missing--may be sexually exploited. A study that examined the prevalence of children's exposure to violence in 2008 found that 1 in 16 (6.1%) surveyed children were sexually victimized in the past year and nearly 1 in 10 (9.8%) were sexually victimized at some point over their lifetimes."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34050