05.23.17

House Passes Bill to Enhance Protections for Missing and Exploited Children

WASHINGTON – The House today passed the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act (H.R. 1808) by a voice vote. Introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, the bill updates the Missing Children’s Assistance Act to strengthen national efforts to recover and protect missing and exploited children.

Members issued the following statements:

“Updating the law for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a critical task for Congress,” Rep. Courtney said. “The threats to children from human trafficking and online predators are real and require new countermeasures that NCMEC is uniquely positioned to execute. Passage of this bipartisan bill today in the House is an important achievement that shows Washington can rise above partisan politics to protect our most vulnerable population.”

“As a father, I cannot imagine the horror moms and dads in this country experience when they discover one of their children has been taken, abused, or exploited,” Rep. Guthrie said.  “Sadly, that’s a nightmare hundreds of thousands of parents in this country face. Last year alone, there were more than 465,000 reports of missing children — and those were just the cases that were reported. I was proud to introduce the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act to ensure that we take care of these children. I look forward to seeing this important piece of legislation signed into law.”

“The terror experienced by parents of a missing child is unfathomable, and both the child and parents experience pain, trauma, fear, and uncertainty,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “That is why affected families need the full support of law enforcement, schools, businesses and other entities that may be able to assist in locating and recovering missing or exploited children. H.R. 1808, the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act will empower the work of NCMEC. I am optimistic that enactment of these initiatives will assist in efforts to end exploitation and trafficking.”

“There is nothing more terrifying for a parent than the thought of someone harming our children, yet that is the difficult realities many families face today,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “That is why, for more than 30 years, a national effort has been underway to recover and protect missing and exploited children. This bipartisan legislation will enhance those efforts so we can ensure America’s most vulnerable children and their families get the help and support they desperately need. I want to thank Representatives Guthrie and Courtney for the work they’ve done to champion this proposal and advance reforms that will make a positive difference in the lives of many Americans.”

BACKGROUND: In 1984, Congress established a grant under the Missing Children’s Assistance Act to support efforts to find missing children and prevent child exploitation. For more than 30 years, the grant has helped the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) coordinate and support state and local efforts to recover children who are missing and protect youth who are the victims of sexual exploitation. NCMEC works with families, law enforcement, schools, community leaders, and nonprofits to help build a national response to crises and crimes affecting some of the most vulnerable children across the country.

To update and streamline the Missing Children’s Assistance Act, Reps. Courtney and Guthrie introduced H.R. 1808. The bipartisan legislation will:

·       Encourage and increase public awareness of new and innovative ways to recover and protect missing and exploited children;

·       Better protect the growing number of children who go missing from state care and those who are victims of sex trafficking;

·       Improve assistance in identifying and locating abductors, criminal offenders, and missing children;

·       Prevent children from becoming the victims of exploitation online; and

·       Provide transparency surrounding recovery and prevention efforts.

To read the bill, click here.

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