What can you do if you see a missing child, abducted child, or suspect child exploitation? If a child is in immediate danger then call 911. Provide local law enforcement with as many details as possible, including the child’s description, name, and location and what is happening to the child. If you cannot or will not call 911 but still know a child is in danger you can go the NCMEC website where you can help a child in one of two ways.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) provides two ways to help children across the nation. The first one allows for the reporting of a missing or abducted child. To report the sighting of a missing child contact the NCMEC toll free hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or 1-800-843-5678. The NCMEC call center takes calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week and you may remain anonymous.
In addition to reporting a missing child, the NCMEC provides a “Congressionally mandated CyberTipLine” which can be used to report suspected or actual crimes against children. The CyberTipLine was authorized by Congress and launched in March of 1998, and according to the NCMEC provides the public sector a way to report suspected incidents of child exploitation. The CyberTipLine is a collaborated effort involving a variety of international, state, and local law enforcement officials who help investigate reports made to the CyberTipLine, and is funded by the federal government and corporate donors.
The goal of the CyberTipLine is “to empower the public to take immediate and direct action to enforce a zero tolerance policy regarding child sexual exploitation” by providing a “streamlined reporting tool that enhances information sharing and collaborative efforts to combat these crimes” amongst all levels of law enforcement. It is easy to look the other way when bad things are happening, and to find excuses NOT to get involved when someone is being hurt or exploited. Yet, when it comes to children, it is wrong to look the other way when we suspect or know something is not right.
Every child deserves to live in a safe and nurturing environment and if you know a child that is not safe, you are morally obligated to report the information to someone who may be able to help that child. After all, as Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and President of the Children's Defense Fund once said, “If we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much”. With holding knowledge of a missing or exploited child makes you guilty by association. Please choose to make a stand for the missing, abducted, and exploited children of America.