NCMEC works with families, victims, private industry, law enforcement, and the public to assist with preventing child abductions, recovering missing children, and providing services to deter and combat child sexual exploitation.
In 1984, John and Revé Walsh and other child advocates founded the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as a private, non-profit organization to serve as the national clearinghouse and resource center for information about missing and exploited children.
Unfortunately, since many children are never reported missing, there is no reliable way to determine the total number of children who are actually missing in the U.S.
When a child is reported missing to law enforcement, federal law requires that child be entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, also known as NCIC.
According to the FBI, in 2018 there were 424,066 NCIC entries for missing children. In 2017, the total number of missing children entries into NCIC was 464,324.
This number represents reports of missing children. That means if a child runs away multiple times in a year, each instance would be entered into NCIC separately and counted in the yearly total. Likewise, if an entry is withdrawn and amended or updated, that would also be reflected in the total.
During the last 34 years, NCMEC’s national toll-free hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST© (1-800-843-5678), has received more than 4.8 million calls. NCMEC has circulated billions of photos of missing children, assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 290,000 missing children and facilitated training for more than 359,000 law enforcement, criminal/juvenile justice and healthcare professionals. NCMEC’s Team HOPE volunteers have provided resources and emotional support to more than 68,000 families of missing and exploited children.