Chapter 4: Missing and Exploited
Children's Program


According to the National Crime Information Center, each year in America approximately 900,000 children are reported missing. Many of them are runaways while others are taken by noncustodial parents and often used as pawns in custody battles. Some wander away and are unable to find their way home, and still others are the victims of child predators. Congress, recognizing the need for a national response to this issue, passed the Missing Children's Assistance Act in 1984 and established the Missing and Exploited Children's Program (MECP) within OJJDP. The program funds a national clearinghouse and resource center, coordinates Federal missing and exploited children activities, provides training and technical assistance, and conducts research pertaining to missing and exploited children.

The past 2 years were active for MECP, and its accomplishments were many. A major highlight was the dedication and opening of the Jimmy Ryce Law Enforcement Training Center, which teaches law enforcement personnel how to investigate cases of missing children more effectively. The program also released important findings from a study of child homicides and produced numerous publications to help the Nation respond more effectively to missing and exploited children. New publications include a highly acclaimed series of Portable Guides for investigators and others and a valuable resource manual that contains detailed information about Federal programs and services available to help agencies that serve missing and exploited children and their families.

During 1996 and 1997, the Office focused on programs that increase awareness of problems relating to missing and exploited children, develop community approaches to address concerns related to these children, and provide assistance to help communities implement effective programs. These programs are described in this chapter.

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OJJDP Annual Report August 1998