Members Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Recovery, Prevention Efforts for Missing and Exploited Children

Bill renews and updates national efforts to support NCMEC

WASHINGTON, DC — Members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce today introduced the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act (H.R. 1808), legislation to strengthen efforts to recover missing children and support youth who are the victims of violent crimes. Introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02), and Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-02), chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, the bipartisan bill updates and streamlines the Missing Children’s Assistance Act to help the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) better serve vulnerable children and their families.

Upon introduction of the bill, members issued the following statements:

“NCMEC has a unique insight into missing children’s issues and has deep expertise in this area, making them a vital partner for law enforcement and families,” said Rep. Courtney. “NCMEC is an indispensable tool for the state and national law enforcement agencies working to reunite children and families, and preventing exploitation and abuse. It is vital that we pass this bill so that NCMEC can continue to fulfill and enhance its vital mission.”

 “As a father, I cannot imagine how I would feel if one of my children were missing or hurt. This bill is personal to me,” Rep. Guthrie said, who introduced similar legislation during the 113th Congress. “I am proud to introduce this legislation so that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can continue to help thousands of children who are in harm’s way every year.

“The terror experienced by parents of a missing child is unfathomable. The child and parents both experience pain, trauma, fear, and uncertainty,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “That is why affected families need the full support of law enforcement, schools, businesses and other entities who may be able to assist in locating and recovering missing or exploited children. Since its creation, NCMEC has played a central role in reuniting children with their families and working to end child sexual exploitation and trafficking. This bill would empower NCMEC to continue its important work.

No child should live in fear, yet hundreds of thousands of children are abducted, abused, or exploited every year. That’s why we have long made it a national priority to find and protect these vulnerable children and provide the support they need,” Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC-05) said.This legislation renews our bipartisan commitment to help missing and exploited children, bring them home safely, and prevent others from becoming the victims of horrible crimes. I appreciate the work Representatives Guthrie and Courtney have done to deliver these important reforms and look forward to working together to advance them in the House.

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, that 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. A unique public-private partnership, 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 strengthen the role of NCMEC in efforts to:

  • 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.

 For a copy of the bill, click here.

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