The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children®assists law enforcement, families and the professionals who serve them with cases of missing and exploited children. NCMEC serves as the national clearinghouse for information about missing and exploited children.
Unfortunately, there is no reliable way to determine how many total children are actually missing in the U.S., as many children are never reported missing.
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 2015 there were 460,699 NCIC entries for missing children. Similarly, in 2014, the total number of missing children entries into NCIC was 466,949.
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 Likewise, if an entry is withdrawn and amended or updated, that would also be reflected in the total.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 31 years, NCMEC’s national toll-free hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678), has received more than 4.2 million calls. NCMEC has circulated billions of photos of missing children, assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 218,000 missing children and facilitated training for more than 320,000 law enforcement, criminal/juvenile justice and healthcare professionals. NCMEC’s Team HOPE volunteers have provided resources and emotional support to more than 55,000 families of missing and exploited children.
NCMEC by the Numbers(i)
In 2015 NCMEC assisted law enforcement with more than 13,700 cases of missing children.
Of the more than 11,800 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2015, one in five were likely victims of child sex trafficking. Of those, 74 percent were in the care of social services when they went missing.
AMBER Alerts1 have successfully recovered 794 children, including 25 recoveries credited to the wireless emergency alert program.
NCMEC’s forensic artists have age-progressed more than 6,000 images of long-term missing children and created more than 480 facial reconstructions for unidentified deceased children.
NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 714 cases of unidentified children’s remains and has assisted in 59 identifications.
Team Adam2, which provides rapid, on-site assistance to law enforcement in cases of critically missing children, has deployed more than 940 times.
Project ALERT®3, which provides technical assistance and outreach regarding long-term missing child cases, has assisted law enforcement and communities more than 9,100 times.
NCMEC has analyzed more than 11,500 attempted child abductions to identify trends and help develop safety tips for families.
NCMEC is authorized by Congress to operate the CyberTipline®4, a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report suspected child sexual exploitation.
In 2015 the CyberTipline received 4.4 million reports, most of which related to:
Since its inception, the CyberTipline has received more than 7.5 million reports.
NCMEC has sent more than 99,000 notifications to electronic service providers regarding publicly accessible websites (URLs) on which suspected child sexual abuse images appeared5.
NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program6, which assists law enforcement in its efforts to locate and rescue child victims in abusive images, has reviewed more than 158 million images and videos and law enforcement has identified more than 10,500 child victims.
NCMEC has assisted with more than 55,000 requests relating to law enforcement’s efforts to locate noncompliant sex offenders7.
Looking for stats on missing kids in your state? Each state has a missing person’s clearinghouse, which can provide regionalized information on missing kids. Check out the list here.i All numbers provided reflect program totals since inception, except where otherwise noted.
1 AMBER Alerts began in 1996 and are a program of the U.S. Department of Justice.
NCMEC is a secondary distributor of AMBER Alerts.
2 NCMEC’s Team Adam program began in 2003.
3 NCMEC’s Project ALERT program began in 1992.
4 NCMEC’s CyberTipline began receiving reports in 1998.
5 NCMEC began formally tracking notifications to ESPs in 2010.
6 NCMEC’s CVIP program began in 2002.
7 NCMEC created SOTT in 2006.