Chapter 4: Missing and Exploited
MECP funded several continuation programs during the past 2 years, including the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association's Safe Return Program. During 1997, the program increased its registration data base to 30,000 individuals and assisted in the return of 1,700 patients who had wandered from their caregivers. The program also continued to manage a data base of more than 25,500 photographs, produced and disseminated training videos for law enforcement, and distributed Safe Return handbooks for the Alzheimer's Association.
OJJDP also continued to fund the Missing and Exploited Children's Comprehensive Action Program (M/CAP), a training program conducted by FVTC. M/CAP promotes the use of community multiagency teams to respond to missing and exploited children cases. OJJDP encouraged existing M/CAP sites to serve as regional technical assistance sites, and FVTC provided training and technical assistance to communities interested in developing M/CAP programs in their neighborhoods. To date, 27 communities have implemented this program, including a statewide effort in South Carolina.
OJJDP funding allowed NCMEC to continue its online access to the FBI National Crime Information Center's (NCIC's) wanted and missing persons files. NCMEC's ability to verify NCIC entries, communicate with law enforcement through the Interstate Law Enforcement Telecommunication System, and be notified of life-threatening cases through the NCIC flagging system is crucial to its mission of providing advice and technical assistance to law enforcement. A new flagging system that provides a place for reporting the endangered child was implemented in 1997.
Temple University Institute for Survey Research in Philadelphia continued work on OJJDP's second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Exploited, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART II). The project is building on the strengths and creatively addresses some of the weaknesses of the first incidence studies. Temple has assembled a team of experts who have extensive knowledge and experience with child victimization and survey research capabilities, particularly those involving sensitive topics regarding children and families. Temple is contracting with the University of New Hampshire Survey Research Lab and Westat, Inc., to carry out specific components of the study and to provide extensive background knowledge about NISMART I. Preliminary results are expected in early 1999.
In late 1995, OJJDP awarded the ABA an 18-month grant to study effective community-based approaches for dealing with missing and exploited children. During 1997, the grantee completed a national search for communities that had successfully implemented a multiagency response to missing and exploited children and selected five sites that hold promise for replication. After synthesizing the research findings, the ABA will develop a training curriculum to help other communities plan, implement, and evaluate a multiagency approach for handling missing and exploited children cases.
OJJDP also continued to fund the American Prosecutors Research Institute of the National District Attorneys' Association of Alexandria, VA. During 1997, the grantee trained 60 prosecutors on missing and exploited children issues, disseminated a quarterly newsletter, maintained an up-to-date parental kidnapping and child exploitation data base that included statutes and case law summaries, and provided technical assistance to more than 100 prosecutors and investigators.
The wide range of programs funded by MECP during the past 2 years -- from NCMEC to the numerous publications, training, technical assistance, and research activities -- have helped heighten public awareness, improve law enforcement responses, and focus national attention on ways to help missing and exploited children and their families.