Virtual News Room
October 23, 2017
Thousands of children are missing in America. We know that photos are the most important tool to finding missing kids. Please take a moment to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@MissingKids) and share missing child posters and stories. You can help bring them home.
View some of their stories here. For more, check out YouTube.
If you have any information about a missing child, please call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST.
Operation Cross Country XI
October 18, 2017
“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America and at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC president & CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”
Jeffrey Lynn Smith will be 48 years old on Oct. 12, 2017
October 12, 2017
Jeffrey Lynn Smith will be 48 years old on Oct. 12, 2017. She went missing from Hot Spring, Arkansas in December 1985.
As her birthday approaches, her family wants Lynn to know this;
“On this day, we celebrate Lynn's life. We want her to know how much we love her and miss her. We will never give up hope of finding her...never give up seeking justice. Most of all we want to give thanks for the pleasure of loving and being loved by you, Jeffrey Lynn Smith for 16 wonderful years. We will hold you dear and affectionately in our hearts forever.”
View her poster: http://www.missingkids.com/poster/NCMC/665279/1/screen
Child Dignity in the Digital World
October 6, 2017
In 2016 alone, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline received approximately 8.2 million reports and a staggering number of those reports were related to the growing issue of online child victimization. As NCMEC continues to work to combat this issue, we are certainly not alone in this fight to protect children from the dangers lurking within the Internet.
These past three days, representatives from NCMEC were given the opportunity to attend the “Child Dignity in the Digital World” conference hosted by the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. Many leaders from all relevant areas on the issue gathered in Rome to answer a desperate call to help further protect our children from becoming victims of sextortion, sexting, cyberbullying and harassment.
Michelle DeLaune, NCMEC’s Chief Operating Officer attended the conference. “This has been a remarkable experience I will never forget,” says DeLaune. “We know that this is a global issue and bringing these leaders together shows our joint commitment to global child protection.”
NCMEC was honored to be given the opportunity to stand side by side with some of our partners, including representatives from Facebook, Microsoft, Thorn and the Internet Watch Foundation as well as other key stakeholders and international leaders. Allowing experts on the issue a chance to collaborate with one another opens the door to create more public awareness and the opportunity to act on the issue on a larger scale.
As the conference came to a close, Pope Francis addressed those in attendance and recognized their efforts. “As representatives of various scientific disciplines and the fields of digital communications, law and political life, you have come together precisely because you realize the gravity of these challenges linked to scientific and technical progress,” he said. “With great foresight, you have concentrated on with is probably the most crucial challenge for the future of the human family: the protection of young people’s dignity, their healthy development, their joy and their hope.”
NCMEC, along with our partners and world leaders, will continue to work together to combat this issue because protecting the dignity and innocence of children is our number one priority.
September 30, 2017
ATTENTION: If you have a missing child as a result of Hurricane Maria, or you find a child who is unaccompanied, please IMMEDIATELY call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's National Emergency Child Locator Center at: 1-866-908-9570.
Someone will be available 24 hours a day to assist.
FEMA has authorized the activation of the National Emergency Child Locator Center to assist authorities in Puerto Rico.
The vice president of NCMEC’s Missing Children Division, Robert Lowery, states, “We are there to answer the call from FEMA who has requested our services to assist with displaced children as a result of Hurricane Maria. In addition to that, we will also be establishing our National Emergency Child Locator Center (NECLC) in Florida to accept calls from the public who are attempting to check on the welfare of children who are in Puerto Rico as a result of this natural disaster.”
NCMEC will also deploy a number of experienced personnel known as "Team Adam” to assist with the location and reunification efforts as a result of Hurricane Maria.
If you have any questions regarding a child missing or displaced due to Hurricane Maria, please call 1-866-908-9570 for assistance.
ATENCIÓN: Si tiene un menor desaparecido como resultado del huracán María o si encuentra un menor que no está acompañado, por favor, llame INMEDIATAMENTE al Centro Nacional de Localizador para Niños de Emergencia del Centro Nacional de Niños Desaparecidos y Explotados del al 1-866-908-9570.
Alguien estará disponible las 24 horas del día para ayudar.
La Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencias (FEMA, por sus siglas en inglés) ha activado el Centro Nacional de Emergencia para Localizar a Menores (NECLC por sus siglas en inglés) para ayudar a autoridades en Puerto Rico.
El vicepresidente de la División de Menores Desaparecidos del Centro Nacional Para Menores Desaparecidos y Explotados (siglas en inglés - NCMEC), Sr. Robert Lowery, indica que “Estamos allí para responder a la llamada de asistencia por FEMA que ha pedido nuestros servicios para ayudar a los niños desplazados como resultado del huracán María. Además de eso, también estaremos estableciendo nuestro Centro Nacional de Localizador de Niños de Emergencia (siglas en inglés - NECLC) en Florida para aceptar las llamadas del público que están tratando de verificar el bienestar de los niños que están en Puerto Rico como resultado de este desastre natural.”
NCMEC también mandara un número de representantes especializados conocidos como “Equipo Adán” para ayudar con los esfuerzos de localización y reunificación por resultado del huracán María.
Si tiene preguntas sobre un menor desaparecido o desplazado debido al huracán María, llame at 1-866-908-9570 para obtener asistencia.
September 20, 2017
A Vermont man is facing federal charges after being arrested earlier this month. Authorities were tipped off after Google submitted a Cybertip to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children that a user had been uploading child sexual abuse material on one of its platforms. NCMEC forwarded the Cybertip onto the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), which then investigated the user.
NCMEC’s CyberTipline provides the public and electronic service providers with the ability to report suspected child sexual abuse online.
Members of the public are encouraged to report information regarding possible child sexual exploitation to the CyberTipline by visiting www.cybertipline.com.
Read the full story here.
New image of unidentified child found in Texas
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office (Texas) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released the first facial reconstruction for a girl found one year ago (Sept. 17, 2016).
Her remains were found near the 7800 block of I-45 north in Madisonville, Texas inside a black suitcase. She was between 2-6 years old, Caucasian or Hispanic, with dark hair. She was found wearing a pink dress and a diaper.
The girl was also found with a feeding tube. She likely had a condition called micrognathia, which would have affected her ability to eat on her own. She also would have likely needed professional medical care throughout her life.
While she was found in Texas, a pollen analysis completed on her remains suggests she was from the southwest U.S. or the adjacent region in Mexico. It’s even more likely she was from southeast Arizona.
NCMEC is asking anyone with information to call its 24/7 hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
The pulse of the news that breaks from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children®.
NCMEC utilizes Yaana Technologies’ purpose-driven Mobile Investigation and Data Acquisition System (MIDAS) to help find missing children quickly
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – September 12, 2017 – According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center Missing Person File, juveniles under the age of 18 account for 38.3% of missing persons in 2016. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC), a nonprofit dedicated to helping find missing children and stop child sexual exploitation, provides on-site assistance to law enforcement agencies and families in cases of missing children through its Team Adam program. Team Adam consultants are retired law enforcement professionals with years of experience at the federal, state and local levels. Consultants from Team Adam provide on-the-ground technical assistance and connect local law enforcement to a national network of resources. Yaana Technologies developed MIDAS (Mobile Investigation and Data Acquisition System), a purpose-built technology platform that offers a mobile application with an intelligent command/control system that enables law enforcement field investigators to rapidly investigate missing persons and other crimes. Yaana has in-depth expertise in processing real-time data, large data platform, mobile application, and passion for solving critical issues. The idea was to use smartphones, tablets and real-time command/control to increase speed and accuracy for field investigators who previously relied on paper/pen while canvassing in response to a child abduction. In searching for missing children, every minute counts. Of the AMBER Alerts issued for abducted children in 2016, 94% of recovered children were found within 72 hours, including 47 percent found within three hours. (http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/2016AMBERAlertReport.pdf)
Yaana Technologies collaborated with NCMEC in developing and implementing a Team Adam MIDAS version to assist with the efforts of Team Adam to support law enforcement. “We at NCMEC appreciate the dedication and passion that Yaana has shown in developing and deploying this application to support our mission of bringing missing children home safely. This mobile app has quickly become a very valuable asset.” Mark D. Gianturco, Vice President Technology Division of CTO Office, NCMEC.
Raj Puri, CEO of Yaana Technologies, explains “MIDAS has been a key project for me personally and we have evolved the core platform by collaborating with the law enforcement community in the US and UK. Yaana is happy to provide this critical service to NCMEC and the law enforcement community to address the crimes against children. Yaana is honored to be selected by NCMEC and in leveraging our expertise to make this world a safer place for our children.”
To speak with a Yaana representative or learn more about Yaana’s Mobile Investigation and Data Acquisition System, visit Yaana’s website: https://www.yaanatech.com/products/#public-sector_midas
About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® is the leading private, nonprofit organization helping to find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent future victimization. NCMEC has assisted in the recovery of more than 243,000 missing children and received more than 20 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation on its CyberTipline. To learn more about NCMEC, visit missingkids.org
or follow NCMEC on Twitter and Facebook.
About Yaana Technologies
Yaana Technologies (www.yaanatech.com) is a leading global provider of Intelligent Compliance Solutions including compliance request management systems, data retention and analytics systems, lawful interception systems and a variety of cybersecurity mediation systems. Yaana’s solutions offer customers a cost-effective path to address the complexities related to meeting compliance needs in the rapidly evolving information communications and cloud markets worldwide.
Follow Yaana via:
US Contact: Saran Gopalakrishnan, Yaana Technologies
Phone: (408) 854 – 8043
Vanished in Cape Cod
September 7, 2017
It has been 40 years since Simone Ridinger disappeared without a trace. But a second look at an old lead could provide investigators with some much-needed information.
As the summer of 1977 drew to a close, 17-year-old Simone made plans to celebrate Labor Day weekend with her family at their vacation home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. At the time, Simone was working as a waitress at the Rainbow Restaurant in downtown Natick, Massachusetts. According to law enforcement, Simone left work around 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, 1977 and intended to hitchhike to Cape Cod, but she never arrived.
According to police records, a man came into the Sherborn Police station in 1986 claiming to have information regarding the disappearance of Simone Ridinger. A local newspaper had recently run an article about Simone and the man told police that he recognized her photo. The man claimed that during the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 3, 1977 he was pulled over by police on Route 128, south of Boston. The man told the officer that he was on his way to Osterville, Massachusetts to collect some clock parts. In his recollection to police, the man said he noticed a young female sitting in the officer’s vehicle. He says the officer asked him if he would give the young female a ride to Cape Cod, since it was in the same direction he was traveling, and he agreed. The man claims that he dropped the young female off at the airport rotary in Hyannis, Massachusetts. The physical description of the young female that the man provided to law enforcement at the time fit with the physical description of Simone. Additionally, the man stated that the young girl was wearing a blue blouse, blue jeans, white sneakers and was carrying a gray-ish colored duffle bag. But law enforcement was not able to corroborate any of this information.
Fast forward to 2014. Detectives with the Sherborn Police Department decided to re-examine Simone’s case. In addition to reviewing some old leads, the detectives also conducted interviews with people who knew Simone during the time she disappeared.
Detectives sat down with two of Simone’s former coworkers from the Rainbow Restaurant. These two individuals were able to provide detectives with a description of what Simone was wearing the day she left work to head to Cape Cod. According to their statement, Simone was wearing a blue vest-like blouse, blue jeans, white sneakers and carrying a gray duffle bag. Sound familiar? This description matched the description given by the man in 1986 who claimed to have given Simone a ride.
With this new information, detectives are now looking into the idea that Simone may have in fact made the 80-mile journey from Natick, Massachusetts to the Cape Cod area before disappearing. Officials with the Sherborn Police Department are seeking information from anyone who may have been in the Cape Cod area during Labor Day weekend 1977 and recall seeing a young female matching Simone’s description.
Simone was a 17-year-old white female with brown hair and brown eyes. She was five feet six inches tall and weighed approximately 130 pounds. She was last seen wearing a blue vest-like blouse, blue jeans, white sneakers and carrying a gray duffle bag. The blouse may have been consistent with the waitress uniform worn at the Rainbow Restaurant in 1977.
If you have any information, please contact the Sherborn Police Department at 508-653-2424 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
September 1, 2017
ATTENTION: If you have a missing child as a result of Hurricane Harvey, or you find a child who is unaccompanied, please IMMEDIATELY call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's National Emergency Child Locator Center at: 1-866-908-9570.
FEMA has authorized the activation of the National Emergency Child Locator Center to assist authorities in the state of Texas. This triggers creation of a toll-free missing children’s hotline, as well as deployment of experienced NCMEC personnel known as "Team Adam." They will assist with the location and reunification of children missing as a result of the hurricane.
If you have any questions regarding a child missing or displaced due to Hurricane Harvey, please call 1-866-908-9570 for assistance.
For additional resources, visit: https://www.fema.gov/how-do-i-find-my-family.
August 18, 2017
Suspect ID’d in Allenstown Homicides, Victims Remain Nameless
Law enforcement announced today a significant break in the decades old murder mystery of an unidentified woman and three unidentified little girls found in steel barrels in Allenstown, New Hampshire. The prime suspect in the quadruple homicide has been identified as Terrance Peder Rasmussen. Rasmussen used many aliases throughout his life, including Bob Evans, before he died in prison in 2010.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children created facial reconstructions for the woman and three little girls. If you have any information to help finally identify these murder victims, please call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST.
KIDSMARTZ, AWARD-WINNING CHILDHOOD ABDUCTION PREVENTION PROGRAM, NOW AVAILABLE IN SPANISH
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Honeywell
Introduce Kids in Grades K-5 to Potentially Life-Saving Messages
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Tuesday, August 8, 2017 – The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® and Honeywell (NYSE:HON) announced today that KidSmartz™, the abduction prevention program, will now be available in English and Spanish. The new Spanish resources are being released just in time for children heading back to school, which NCMEC cites as a critical time in child safety.
A ten-year analysis by NCMEC of attempted abductions and related incidents found that most occurred when children were on their way to or from school. The KidSmartz program focuses on keeping the lines of communication open between parents and children, helping children identify trusted adults and avoid potentially dangerous situations.
“We want to stop crimes against children before they happen and education is the key,” said NCMEC President and CEO, John Clark. “In the past five years, 15 percent of the missing children reported to NCMEC were Hispanic with many of them speaking only Spanish at home. With these translated resources, we can help protect more children.”
The KidSmartz program, developed by NCMEC in partnership with Honeywell Hometown Solutions, the company’s corporate citizenship initiative, uses videos, music and classroom activities to teach personal safety to children in grades K-5. It was the recipient of the 2016 Teacher’s Choice Award from “Learning Magazine.”
The program, focuses on four basic safety rules:
- Check First
- Take a Friend
- Tell People “NO”
- Tell a Trusted Adult
“Safety is one of the most critical areas of focus for Honeywell’s corporate citizenship initiatives, and reaching as many families and schools through this program is essential in preventing abduction,” said Mike Bennett, president, Honeywell Hometown Solutions. “Offering KidSmartz’s resources in Spanish fits our strategy to reach an even greater number of communities where conversations about kids’ safety can take place.”
The KidSmartz materials are available in English and Spanish for free download at www.Kidsmartz.org. For more information, visit KidSmartz on Facebook and Twitter.
About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Since 1984, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® has served as the leading private, nonprofit organization helping to find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent future victimization. As part of its work as the clearinghouse and resource center on issues relating to missing and exploited children, NCMEC operates a hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678), and has assisted in the recovery of more than 237,000 missing children. NCMEC also operates the CyberTipline®, a mechanism for reporting suspected child sexual exploitation, which has received more than 16.5 million reports since it was created in 1998. To learn more about NCMEC, visit www.missingkids.org or see NCMEC on Twitter and Facebook.
About Honeywell Hometown Solutions
KidSmartz™, the “next generation” of Got2BSafe!, is part of Honeywell Hometown Solutions, the company’s corporate citizenship initiative, which focuses on five areas of vital importance: Science & Math Education, Family Safety & Security, Housing & Shelter, Habitat & Conservation, and Humanitarian Relief. Together with leading public and non-profit institutions, Honeywell has developed powerful programs to address these needs in the communities it serves. For more information, please visit https://citizenship.honeywell.com/.
Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) is a Fortune 100 software-industrial company that delivers industry specific solutions that include aerospace and automotive products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes, and industry; and performance materials globally. Our technologies help everything from aircraft, cars, homes and buildings, manufacturing plants, supply chains, and workers become more connected to make our world smarter, safer, and more sustainable. For more news and information on Honeywell, please visit www.honeywell.com/newsroom.
KIDSMARTZ, EL PREMIADO PROGRAMA PARA LA PREVENCIÓN DE SECUESTROS, AHORA DISPONIBLE EN ESPAÑOL
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children y Honeywell
presentan mensajes que podrían salvarle la vida a los niños de los grados K-5
ALEXANDRIA, Va., martes 8 de agosto de 2017 – El National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® y Honeywell (NYSE:HON) anunciaron hoy que KidSmartz™, el programa para la prevención de secuestros, ahora estará disponible en inglés y en español. Los nuevos recursos en español se publican justo a tiempo para el regreso de los niños a la escuela, que el NCMEC señala como una época crucial para la seguridad de los niños.
Un análisis de diez años realizado por el NCMEC sobre los intentos de secuestro e incidentes relacionados encontró que la mayoría se produjo cuando los niños estaban yendo o volviendo de la escuela. El programa KidSmartz se centra en mantener las líneas de comunicación abiertas entre los padres y los niños, en ayudar a que los niños reconozcan a los adultos de confianza y en evitar situaciones potencialmente peligrosas.
“Queremos detener los delitos contra los niños antes de que ocurran y, para eso, la educación es fundamental”, dijo el presidente y director ejecutivo del NCMEC, John Clark. “En los últimos 5 años, el 15 por ciento de los niños perdidos informados por el NCMEC son hispanos y muchos de ellos solo hablan español en su casa. Con la traducción de estos recursos, podemos ayudar a proteger a más niños”.
El programa KidSmartz, desarrollado por el NCMEC en sociedad con Honeywell Hometown Solutions, la iniciativa corporativa-ciudadana de la empresa, emplea videos, música y actividades escolares para enseñarles a los niños de los grados K-5 a cuidar su seguridad personal. Recibió el premio Teacher’s Choice 2016 otorgado por “Learning Magazine”.
Este programa se centra en cuatro reglas básicas de seguridad que enseña a los niños a:
- Consultar primero
- Llevar a un amigo
- Decirle “NO” a la gente
- Decirle a un adulto de confianza
“La seguridad es una de las áreas de enfoque fundamentales de las iniciativas corporativa-ciudadanas de Honeywell, y llegar a tantas familias y escuelas como sea posible con este programa es esencial para evitar los secuestros”, dijo Mike Bennett, presidente de Honeywell Hometown Solutions. “Ofrecer los recursos de KidSmartz en español forma parte de nuestra estrategia para llegar a una cantidad aún mayor de comunidades donde puedan darse conversaciones sobre la seguridad de los niños”.
Puede descargar los materiales de KidSmartz en inglés y en español en forma gratuita en www.KidSmartz.org. Para más información, visite KidSmartz en Facebook y Twitter.
Acerca del National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Desde el año 1984, el National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® se ha desempeñado como la organización privada, sin ánimo de lucro, líder en ayudar a encontrar los niños perdidos, reducir la explotación sexual de menores y evitar víctimas futuras. Dentro de su tarea como centro de recursos y referencia sobre los temas relacionados con niños perdidos y explotados, el NCMEC tiene una línea directa, 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678), y ha asistido en la recuperación de más de 237,000 niños perdidos. El NCMEC también opera CyberTipline®, un mecanismo para denunciar sospechas de explotación sexual infantil, el cual ha recibido más de 16.5 millones de denuncias desde su creación en 1998. Para obtener más información sobre el NCMEC, visite www.missingkids.org o consulte las cuentas del NCMEC en Twitter y Facebook.
Acerca de Honeywell Hometown Solutions
KidSmartz™, la “generación siguiente” de Got2BSafe!, es parte de Honeywell Hometown Solutions, la iniciativa corporativa-ciudadana de la empresa, que se centra en cinco áreas de vital importancia: educación en Ciencias y Matemática, seguridad familiar, vivienda y refugio, hábitat y conservación, y ayuda humanitaria. Junto con instituciones públicas y sin ánimo de lucro líderes, Honeywell ha desarrollado fuertes programas para dar respuesta a esas necesidades de las comunidades en las que opera. Para obtener más información, visite https://citizenship.honeywell.com/.
Acerca de Honeywell
Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) es una empresa industrial de software incluida en la lista Fortune 100 que ofrece soluciones específicas para la industria mundial, tales como productos y servicios aeroespaciales; tecnologías de control para edificios, hogares e industria; y materiales de alto rendimiento. Nuestras tecnologías ayudan a que todos, desde aeronaves, automóviles, hogares y edificios, plantas de manufactura, cadenas de suministro y trabajadores, estén más conectados para que nuestro mundo sea más inteligente, más seguro y más sustentable. Para ver más novedades e información sobre Honeywell, visite www.honeywell.com/newsroom.
July 13, 2017
A shocking crime in Colorado - Christopher Abeyta was stolen from his crib in the middle of the night on July 15, 1986. He was seven months old. Today, there are no answers. See how Christopher’s disappearance has impacted generations of his family and how they keep up the fight to bring him home. NCMEC’s Angeline Hartmann sat down with Christopher’s niece, sister and mother.
If you have any information on the disappearance of Christopher Abeyta, please call the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719-444-7000 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
June 14, 2017
Investigators with the Greece Police Department in Greece, NY are asking for your help to identity an unknown child found in 1976.
On March 9, 1976, the skeletal remains of a young child were found inside a blue metal storage trunk in the basement of an apartment complex in Greece, NY. Greece is a neighborhood just outside of Rochester, NY.
As part of its ongoing investigation, Greece PD worked with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to have the child’s DNA tested, confirming the child is male.
He had brown hair and was found wearing a light blue pajama top with a deer design on the left chest area. He was also wearing a plastic diaper that was fastened with two stainless steel diaper pins.
Anyone with tips should call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
June 2, 2017
NCMEC is proud to partner with the Portland Growler Company (PGC) this June! From June 1-30th, patrons of Portland Growler Company can use the discount code “NCMEC10” at checkout. Portland Growler Company will take 10% off of your order AND donate 10% back to NCMEC to help us find missing kids and help our critical outreach and prevention programs!
Again, the cause marketing effort kicks off June 1st and can be used on any custom growler from Portland Growler Company’s legendary selection – Wedding Packages are the only exclusion.
Visit https://portlandgrowlercompany.com/ to place your order today!
June 1, 2017
She could be the girl that sits in the second row of your classroom.
He could be the boy standing in front of you in line at the mall.
They could be victims, hiding in plain sight.
Often in the movies we are led to believe that victims of trafficking are kept behind closed doors, in captivity…and while this holds some truth, it’s not always the case.
“Child sex trafficking is a public crime that is well disguised and often the ‘handcuffs’ are mental rather than physical,” said Staca Shehan, the executive director of the Case Analysis Division at NCMEC.
The first step in combating child sex trafficking is understanding what victim indicators may look like because often they are not what one would expect.
Individuals such as teachers, hotel staff, hospital workers and others who may come in contact with children on a daily basis, can play a vital role in recognizing victims of child sex trafficking. Some behavioral indicators a victim may display include the use of prostitution-related terms, connecting and spending time with older individuals or looking to others before answering questions.
Last year, an Uber driver named Keith Avila was hailed as a hero for saving a saving a 16-year-old trafficking victim. Avila picked up two adult women and a teenage girl to drive them to a nearby hotel and became concerned with the situation after he overheard the adult women talking about delivering the teen to a “John” in exchange for money. After dropping the passengers off, the driver immediately contacted 911, later learning that the victim was a 16-year-old girl who had run away from home. NCMEC honored Avila at its annual Hope Awards gala last month.
Victims of child sex trafficking may also show signs of possible physical abuse, have access to large, unexplained sums of money or reference traveling job opportunities such as modeling or dancing. According to NBC News, in 2011, a flight attendant with Alaska Airlines, while on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco, spotted a girl huddled in a window seat, with bruises on her legs, wearing worn clothing and seated next to a well-dressed older man. Sensing that something was wrong, the flight attendant motioned to the girl to go to the restroom where the flight attendant left a piece of paper and a pen. The girl wrote back, “I need help.” With that, the flight attendant notified the authorities and likely saved this young girl’s life.
NCMEC is asking you to join the fight against child sex trafficking. In addition to familiarizing yourself with some of the indicators of child sex trafficking, we ask you to take the time to educate your children. As Shehan explained, “We know teens are being targeted and we have a responsibility to educate teens on the realities of sex trafficking.” We ask that if you SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. If you have a suspicion or bad feeling, make a report to NCMEC at CyberTipline.org. You could help save a child’s life.