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     Missing and Exploited Children

Report Missing Children

Information about missing children cases can be reported to NCMEC's 24-hour hotline at 800-THE-LOST.

Help for Families

With support from OJJDP, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has produced Missing-Child, Emergency-Response, Quick-Reference Guide for Families, which provides a checklist of actions for families to take if a child goes missing.

For example, if your child goes missing:

  • Immediately call your local law enforcement agency to make a report
  • Be prepared to provide information about your child, including date of birth, height, weight, and any other unique identifiers such as eyeglasses and braces
  • Report when you first noticed your child was missing, where he/she was last seen, and what clothing he or she was wearing
  • Request your child's information be entered into the NCIC Missing Persons database

View the full checklist of actions

In 2018, there were 424,066 reports of missing persons, involving youth, entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center (NCIC). A total of 612,846 missing person reports were submitted to NCIC, of those 85,459 records remained active as of December 31, 2018. Youth accounted for 34.8 percent of those active missing persons records.

OJJDP Efforts

In federal fiscal year 2018, OJJDP awarded over $42 million to support locating missing children, prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation and provide technical training and assistance.

OJJDP has partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for over 30 years. OJJDP awarded more than $28.3 million to the center to provide support, technical assistance and training to law enforcement to find and bring home missing and exploited children.

Also in federal fiscal year 2018, OJJDP awarded $1.8 million to Fox Valley Technical College to develop and administer training for missing and exploited children's programs. Another $3.4 million was also awarded to Fox Valley Technical College under the National AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program.


In partnership with OJJDP, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers critical intervention and prevention services to families and supports law enforcement agencies in cases involving missing children.

AMBER Alert logoWhen a child goes missing, authorities can deploy alerts on multiple platforms across multiple jurisdictions. In its 21st year and with support from OJJDP, the AMBER Alert system is now being used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Indian country, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 27 other countries.

As of January 2019, a total of 941 children had been successfully recovered through the AMBER Alert system.

OJJDP engages numerous partners across the nonprofit, corporate, and technology sectors to bolster the AMBER Alert program, including NCMEC, federal law enforcement agencies, wireless carriers, Internet service providers, social media outlets, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

Visit the AMBER Alert Statistics page for additional data and reports showing the impact and reach of this program.


Following are a sampling of topical resources developed or sponsored by OJJDP:

See the Missing Children topical page for additional materials.

Missing-Child, Emergency-Response, Quick-Reference Guide for Families

View A Law Enforcement Guide on International Parental Kidnapping

Additional Resources

AMBER Alert™
A voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, the AMBER Alert™ Program is used to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases.

Child ID App
Developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, this free tool provides a convenient place to electronically store photos and vital information about children so that it is easily accessible if needed.

International Parental Child Abduction
This section of the U.S. Department of State website provides information and services to parents involved in cases of international child abductions.

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
NCMEC was established in 1984 to prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation, find missing children, and assist victims and their families. Additional resources from NCMEC include the following:

  • Lost Child Alert Technology Resource (LOCATER) enhances law enforcement's ability to recover missing children by allowing for the rapid dissemination of images and information.
  • Safety Central App serves as a digital child ID kit that allows parents to save information about, fingerprints for, and photographs of their children.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS): Missing Children Special Feature
This online resource presents publications, program, and related information focusing on missing children.

National Missing Children's Day
This section of the OJJDP website provides information about the activities surrounding the annual commemoration of May 25 as National Missing Children's Day.

National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)
A program of the National Institute of Justice, NamUs is a national centralized repository and resource center for missing persons and unidentified decedent records.

Office for Victims of Crime (OVC): Missing Children
This section of the OVC website provides information about services and resources available to victims of child abductions and exploitation.

Connect With OJJDP

Stay Connected with OJJDPStay Connected with OJJDP to keep informed about research, programs, and reports related to child abduction and other topics by subscribing to the JUVJUST listserv, the bimonthly online newsletter OJJDP News @ a Glance, or follow OJJDP on Twitter or Facebook.