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Congressional Authorization

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® was established in 1984 as a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. NCMEC works in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice to help law enforcement find missing children, eliminate child sexual exploitation and prevent child victimization.

NCMEC is authorized by the U.S. Congress to perform the 22 specific tasks noted below (42 U.S.C. § 5773):

  1. Operate the official national resource center and information clearinghouse for missing and exploited children.
  2. Operate a national 24-hour toll-free telephone line by which individuals may report information regarding the location of any missing child, and request information pertaining to procedures necessary to reunite such child with such child’s legal custodian; and coordinate the operation of such telephone line with the operation of the national communications system referred to in part C of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
  3. Provide to State and local governments, and public and private nonprofit agencies, State and local educational agencies, and individuals, information regarding
    1. free or low-cost legal, restaurant, lodging, and transportation services that are available for the benefit of missing and exploited children and their families; and
    2. the existence and nature of programs being carried out by Federal agencies to assist missing and exploited children and their families.
  4. Coordinate public and private programs that locate, recover, or reunite missing children with their families.
  5. Disseminate, on a national basis, information relating to innovative and model programs, services, and legislation that benefit missing and exploited children.
  6. Based solely on reports received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and not involving any data collection by NCMEC other than the receipt of those reports, annually provide to the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
    1. the number of children nationwide who are reported to NCMEC as missing;
    2. the number of children nationwide who are reported to NCMEC as victims of non-family abductions;
    3. the number of children nationwide who are reported to NCMEC as victims of parental kidnappings; and
    4. the number of children recovered nationwide whose recovery was reported to NCMEC.
  7. Provide, at the request of State and local governments, and public and private nonprofit agencies, guidance on how to facilitate the lawful use of school records and birth certificates to identify and locate missing children.
  8. Provide technical assistance and training to law enforcement agencies, State and local governments, elements of the criminal justice system, public and private nonprofit agencies, and individuals in the prevention, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of cases involving missing and exploited children.
  9. Provide assistance to families and law enforcement agencies in locating and recovering missing and exploited children, both nationally and, in cooperation with the Department of State, internationally.
  10. Provide analytical support and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies through searching public records databases in locating and recovering missing and exploited children and helping to locate and identify abductors.
  11. Provide direct on-site technical assistance and consultation to law enforcement agencies in child abduction and exploitation cases.
  12. Provide forensic technical assistance and consultation to law enforcement and other agencies in the identification of unidentified deceased children through facial reconstruction of skeletal remains and similar techniques.
  13. Track the incidence of attempted child abductions in order to identify links and patterns, and provide such information to law enforcement agencies.
  14. Provide training and assistance to law enforcement agencies in identifying and locating non-compliant sex offenders.
  15. Facilitate the deployment of the National Emergency Child Locator Center to assist in reuniting missing children with their families during periods of national disasters.
  16. Operate a cyber tipline to provide online users and electronic service providers an effective means of reporting Internet-related child sexual exploitation in the areas of
    1. possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography;
    2. online enticement of children for sexual acts;
    3. child prostitution;
    4. sex tourism involving children;
    5. extrafamilial child sexual molestation;
    6. unsolicited obscene material sent to a child;
    7. misleading domain names; and
    8. misleading words or digital images on the Internet,
    and subsequently to transmit such reports, including relevant images and information, to the appropriate international, Federal, State or local law enforcement agency for investigation.
  17. Work with law enforcement, Internet service providers, electronic payment service providers, and others on methods to reduce the distribution on the Internet of images and videos of sexually exploited children.
  18. Operate a child victim identification program in order to assist the efforts of law enforcement agencies in identifying victims of child pornography and other sexual crimes.
  19. Develop and disseminate programs and information to the general public, schools, public officials, youth-serving organizations, and nonprofit organizations, directly or through grants or contracts with public agencies and public and private nonprofit organizations, on
    1. the prevention of child abduction and sexual exploitation; and
    2. internet safety.
  20. Provide technical assistance and training to State and local law enforcement agencies and statewide clearinghouses to coordinate with State and local educational agencies in identifying and recovering missing children.
  21. Assist the efforts of law enforcement agencies in coordinating with child welfare agencies to respond to foster children missing from the State welfare system.
  22. Provide technical assistance to law enforcement agencies and first responders in identifying, locating, and recovering victims of, and children at risk for, child sex trafficking.

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