Twenty Years of Protecting Children


Back in 2001 when John Shehan first joined the Exploited Children Division at NCMEC as an analyst, the internet was a very different place.

“At the time, people weren’t interacting online the way they are today,” said Shehan. “We were just starting to see the evolution of websites and chat rooms where people were sharing content. While these innovations in technology have many great uses, we also quickly saw they could also be used for nefarious purposes.

”Launched in March of 1998, NCMEC’s CyberTipline is a critical tool for the nation in the effort to reduce the proliferation of child sexual abuse material online and instances of child sex exploitation while leveraging technology to support law enforcement efforts to rescue children from abusive situations.

Here’s how it works. If you see something online that you think might involve child sexual exploitation or depict “child pornography” – better described as child sexual abuse images – you may have no idea what to do. Do you call police? You are not sure where it occurred since it happened online so which police department do you call?  You know sharing the images is illegal, but then how do you report it?

The CyberTipline gives the public a mechanism to safely report the concerning incident without having to share the images all over again. Analysts at NCMEC take that information, use technology tools and open-source data to add information and try to figure out where the content is originating from so they can make the report available to law enforcement in the right jurisdiction.  Analysts also inform the hosting provider in an effort to have it removed from the internet and help to prevent further dissemination. Analysts are continually reviewing incoming reports to make sure children who are in imminent danger are receiving first priority.

“Some images we’ve seen tens of thousands of times and we know the victim has already been rescued,” said Shehan. “It’s important to weed through all of the data to identify newly produced images so law enforcement can find victims who are being actively abused.”

In 2002, NCMEC launched the Child Victim Identification Program because analysts reviewing CyberTipline reports were seeing the same images reported over and over again. 

“In order to determine what children were currently in abusive situations we needed to know if law enforcement had already intervened to rescue the child depicted in a set of images,” said Shehan. “We started keeping track of that information to act as a pointer system and it’s grown into a global clearinghouse for victim identification.”

Now, as a vice president at NCMEC, Shehan runs the exploited children division. What started in 1998 with two analysts has grown to a staff of 64.  But it’s not the just the sheer size of the department that’s changed over the years.


John Shehan is the vice president of the Exploited Children Division at NCMEC.

According to Shehan, everything started to change back in 2004…that’s when U.S. companies began to fight the proliferation of child abuse images online using hash values – unique digital fingerprints assigned to pieces of data like images and videos – to find, remove and report child sexual abuse content located on their servers. With a list of “known” hash values, companies can voluntarily scan their systems so the content can be identified, reported and removed. Likewise, when NCMEC receives a report about a child sexual abuse image with a known hash value, it can quickly determine if the image has already been reported, and if the child in the image has been identified. That’s the first step in rescuing a child.

As technology advances, there will be more opportunities to help survivors. For example, NCMEC recently partnered with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s “Project Arachnid,” which takes known hash values of child sexual abuse content and scours the web looking for those images. Gone are the days when NCMEC could only find out about content posted on public websites when the CyberTipline received a report. We have entered a new age where systems can proactively go out and find the images and alert the hosting providers so they can take the content down.

The CyberTipline is more than a mere reporting mechanism. There’s a lot to be learned from the more than 28 million reports NCMEC has received in the past 20 years. The rise of trends like sexting and sextortion can clearly be seen in the data from the CyberTipline. That data helps inform NCMEC’s prevention programs and education materials. 

“It is really fulfilling to see the CyberTipline report data being used for prevention,” said Rebecca Sternberg, who manages the CyberTipline. “The reality is most, if not all, children will be online.  We must equip them with information about how to do that more safely and empower them with the awareness of how to take action and make a report to CyberTipline, if necessary.”

So what’s next for NCMEC’s exploited children division? According to Shehan and his team, it’s all about using the best technology out there to help manage the immense amount of data coming into the center…that’s hundreds of thousands of reports per week.

Another one of Shehan’s goals is to use technology to help sort through images and videos more efficiently so his staff isn’t looking at the same abuse images over and over again. He’s aware of the toll it takes on analysts to view these images, so reducing that exposure is a high priority.

“I think it takes a certain kind of person to be able to do this job,” said Sternberg. I focus on the positive aspects. I know I’m making a difference, even if it’s just that one report, that one family.”

“NCMEC takes the mental health of its employees very seriously,” said Shehan. “We offer on-site counseling to staff members, there are spouse and significant-other groups…there are lots of different ways we make sure the team members have access to the resources they deserve.”


One thing we know for sure is the volume of reports made to the CyberTipline isn’t decreasing. In fact, in 2014 the CyberTipline passed a major milestone – it received more than one million reports that year. Today – less than four years later - we’re averaging over a million reports per month. 

“There are thousands of victims that would probably still be in really bad situations if the CyberTipline didn’t exist,” said Shehan. “I’m honored to be part of a team that every day is working hard to provide resources that contribute to the rescue of children in bad situations, reduce the amount of child sexual abuse material online and provide a vital service to the public to better protect themselves, their families and their communities.”

If you ever come across suspicious content online, please make a report to Reporting categories include online enticement of children for sexual acts, extra-familial child sexual molestation, child pornography, child sex tourism, child sex trafficking, unsolicited obscene materials sent to a child, misleading domain names and misleading words or digital images on the internet. 

Never hesitate to make a report. For more information, visit:


NCMEC's cybertipline turns 20

CyberTipline logo

   For 20 years now, NCMEC’s CyberTipline has been the nation’s centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children. The public and electronic service providers (ESPs) can make reports of suspected online enticement of children for sexual acts, extra-familial child sexual molestation, child pornography, child sex tourism, child sex trafficking, unsolicited obscene materials sent to a child, misleading domain names, and misleading words or digital images on the internet. Since its inception, the CyberTipline has received over 27 million reports, the overwhelming majority of which were reports of child sexual abuse materials online.

NCMEC analysts review each tip and work to find a potential location for the incident reported so that it may be made available to the appropriate law-enforcement agency for possible investigation. We also use the information from our CyberTipline reports to help shape our prevention and safety messages.

Learn more about the CyberTipline here.

To make a report of online exploitation or child sex trafficking, click here.

College Students: "Don't let your guard down"

Suzanne Lyall was heading back to her dorm at the State University of New York in Albany when she vanished without a trace. She’s still missing today, 20 years later.

Her parents, Mary and Doug Lyall, have never stopped searching for “Suzy” since that devastating day, March 2, 1998. Doug Lyall died in 2015 at age 73 – never knowing what happened to his youngest daughter.

When Suzy disappeared, anyone between the ages of 18-21 was considered an adult and therefore was not listed as a missing child in the FBI’s national crime database. The Lyalls felt their 19-year-old daughter should be considered a missing child and fought hard for what became known as “Suzanne’s Law.”

The law, which was passed by Congress in April of 2003, extends the same reporting and investigative procedures to anyone missing between the ages of 18-21 that it does for children. It also enables the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to provide a full array of its resources for this age group.

“When Suzy first went missing, we had nowhere to turn,” said Mary Lyall, explaining why she fought for Suzanne’s Law, which has helped many searching families. “We were ordinary everyday people and didn’t realize we could have such an impact.”

Since the law was enacted, NCMEC has helped law enforcement with more than 1,000 of these cases, including those that were grandfathered in. Of the total, females and males were almost equal.

Mike DeShields, a member of NCMEC’s Forensic Services Unit, formerly worked as a special agent with the Department of Education’s Inspector General’s Office. He’s seen dozens of cases of missing co-eds and believes kids heading to college often think they’re invincible and let their guard down.

College students may be particularly susceptible to a raft of crimes, including abduction, sexual assault and robbery, especially if they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, said DeShields. Predators know where college kids hang out and are adept at targeting those who are the most vulnerable. “We encourage the students to always try to be aware of their surroundings and their conditions and to not only look out for themselves but their friends and peers as well,” he said.

In September 2014, Hannah Graham, 18, disappeared from the University of Virginia after a night out with friends and was later found murdered. Five years earlier, Morgan Harrington, 20, a student at Virginia Tech, vanished after attending a concert at UVA, and her body was found three months later. The same man has been charged in both of their slayings.

Tricia Reitler, 19, a student at Indiana Wesleyan University, was last seen on March 29, 1993 walking to her dorm alone from a store half a mile from campus. Tiffany Sessions, 20, a student at the University of Florida, was last seen on Feb. 9, 1989 leaving her off-campus apartment to go jogging. Kristin Smart, 19, was last seen leaving an off-campus party to return to her dorm at California Polytechnic State University on May 25, 1996. And Lauren Spierer, 20, a student at Indiana University, was last seen on June 3, 2011 after leaving a bar in Bloomington. All of these college students are still missing today.

Robert Lowery, vice president of NCMEC’s Missing Children Division, understands that college students enjoy their new freedoms when they leave home but stresses they should not let their guard down. Most importantly, he said, they should not walk anywhere alone at night and always use their common sense, as well as being aware of their surroundings. If they see something that makes them uneasy, they should trust their instincts, he said. Along with knowing the campus police phone numbers, Lowery encourages students to be careful when drinking alcohol and to always carry an ID with them.

Mary Lyall also urges all college students, and their parents, to be aware of potential dangers and to learn ways to protect themselves. She said neither she nor her daughter ever imagined anything would happen to her at college.
Lyall will never stop looking for her daughter until she finds the answers she desperately needs. She and her late husband dedicated their lives to helping other families of missing children and started their own non-profit organization, called the “Center for Hope.“

Lyall is also a member of NCMEC’s Team HOPE, an army of volunteers who have had a missing or exploited child and work with other families going through similarly tough times.

Abby Potash, program director for Team HOPE, said Mary Lyall, her husband and daughter, Sandy, have been a tremendous help and comfort to more than 50 families since joining the organization in 2002.

“Mary is extremely dedicated to helping all families of missing children,” Potash said.

A year after Suzanne went missing, Doug Lyall wrote a public letter to the person who abducted his daughter:

“I wonder if you were ever like Suzy,” he wrote. “Did you love homemade chocolate chip cookies? Did you go to RUSH concerts? Did you play jokes on April Fools’ Day? Did you spend time on the computer, oblivious to anything else going on around you? Suzy is more than a girl on a poster. Her mom and dad, Steve and Sandy miss her daily. She has dreams, and hopes and potential. I still have positive dreams. For my own survival, I have had to let go of anger or I would be consumed by it. But the questions persist.”

If you think you have seen a missing child, contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 24-hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).



Family wants their “baby caterpillar” found

Today, February 26, is LaQuanta Riley’s 34th birthday.

LaQuanta went missing in December 2003. Despite the years that have passed, her relatives can vividly recall Quanta’s special qualities.

Quanta wasn’t much for sports, but she played clarinet for her middle and high school bands. Quanta’s family remembers how school and academics were very important to her. She studied hard and was an honor roll student for most of her school years. After graduating, Quanta planned to become a forensic scientist. At the time she disappeared, a full academic scholarship was waiting for her.

LaQuanta and her mother

LaQuanta and her mother.

It’s been 14 years since her family has seen Quanta. Tammy, who helped raise Quanta, said that “whether Quanta is spoken about or not, she is present in their thoughts and dreams.” As a baby, family called Quanta their “baby caterpillar.” Her family wants Quanta found. Until that day comes, they will wonder what ever happened to their special baby caterpillar.

LaQuanta's age progression

The image on the right is an age progression showing what LaQuanta may look like today.

LaQuanta Riley went missing from Montgomery, Alabama on Dec. 7, 2003. Her ears and tongue are pierced. She has a scar on her nose and two known tattoos, “Rest in Peace Mesha” on her left arm and “LaQuanta” tattooed on her right arm. If you have any information, please call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). 






Vanished in Nashville: The Search for Tabitha Tuders

Tabitha Tuders at age 13

Tabitha Tuders was a typical 13-year-old girl, the youngest of three, she is lovingly referred to by her family as “Boo.”

“Her name is Tabitha, but I don’t remember how she got the nickname Boo, but that’s all I can remember calling her,” says Tabitha’s older brother, Kevin Tuders.

Although Kevin is 12 years older than Tabitha and had already moved out of the family’s home in Nashville, Tennessee by the time Tabitha was 13-years-old, the two were close. Kevin recalls how Tabitha would frequently ask him for a dollar so she could go buy Slim Jims, her favorite snack. He describes Tabitha as a “smiler,” a kid who was always happy.

Jamie Pulley, Tabitha’s older sister remembers how Tabitha loved to play with Jamie’s children. She describes Tabitha as a good kid who would never skip school or lie to their parents.

“Mom and dad were the main ones who spoiled her,” Jamie says with a smile. “She was the baby.”

For many families, like the Tuders, who are searching for their loved ones, there will always be a life before and a life after. In this case, it was life before April 29th, 2003 and life after, neither of which resemble the other.

The morning of Tuesday, April 29th, 2003 was like any other morning in the Tuders’ home in Nashville, Tennessee. Tabitha’s father, Bo, woke Tabitha up for school before he left to head off to work. Just as she had done many mornings before, Tabitha headed down the street to the bus stop located at Boscobel St. and 14th St. The rest of the family went off to go about their daily routine as well, but when Tabitha didn’t return from school at her usual time, her mother, Deborah, grew concerned.

Deborah went up to Tabitha’s school and was told by a few students that they had not seen Tabitha at school that day. That’s when Deborah contacted the Metropolitan Nashville Police to file a missing person report.

Detective Steven Jolley is with the Homicide Cold Case Unit at the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and is one of a long line of detectives who have been assigned to Tabitha’s case over the years.

According to Det. Jolley, after Tabitha was reported missing, law enforcement was able to determine that she had not even made it on the bus that morning. This meant that there was a whole window of time between approximately 8:00a.m. and 5:30p.m. that unbeknownst to her family, Tabitha had already gone missing.

Tabitha Tuder's home

“Somewhere between home and the bus stop is where she came up missing,” explains Jamie. “She never made it to school. We didn’t know she did not make it to school until she did not come home on the bus that afternoon.”

Law enforcement, along with Tabitha’s family, set out on a search that unbeknownst to them at the time, would continue for years.

At the time of Tabitha’s disappearance, law enforcement established a command post and organized search parties utilizing cadaver dogs and aviation. The family, along with several members of the community, participated in the search for Tabitha by handing out flyers with Tabitha’s picture.

In reviewing Tabitha’s case, Det. Jolley notes that there were several leads that came in from around the time Tabitha disappeared. According to lead reports, one witness claims to have seen Tabitha walking toward the bus stop on 15th St. when she stopped to talk to someone in a red vehicle. The witness stated that he then saw the vehicle turn around and Tabitha got in the front seat. Law enforcement considered this information, along with several other leads they received, but unfortunately none of those leads have led to Tabitha’s whereabouts.

Over 14 years have gone by and law enforcement continues to actively work this case. Although they do not have the answers yet, they, along with Tabitha’s family, theorize as to what happened to Tabitha. One aspect both parties agree on is the fact that Tabitha was most likely not a runaway.

“I don’t think that this is a runaway case for a couple of reasons,” explains Det. Jolley. “A 13-year-old girl had some cash that was left on her dresser, there were things left in her bedroom that I don’t think most 13-year-old girls would leave and she went in a direction that she would have normally gone in if she were going to school. I think if she were wanting to runaway she would have stayed clear of any place where someone would potentially see her.”

Forensic Artists at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children have created several age-progressed images to show what Tabitha may look like as she ages, but for Tabitha’s family, she remains forever in their minds as a 13-year-old girl. 

Age progressed photo of Tabitha in a frame accompanied by a prayer

“When I look for Boo, I look for that 13-year-old,” says Jamie. “I don’t look for a grown up. That’s all we know, is her as a child. It’s hard to see the age progressions because you don’t believe she looks like that.”

Tabitha’s parents have refused to move out of the home they shared with Tabitha in hopes that one day she will find her way back there. In the meantime, the family continues to share Tabitha’s story and vows to never stop searching for her until she returns home.

“We always look,” explains Kevin. “Even just doing basic everyday things, you find yourself looking.”

For the Tuders, life after April 29th, 2003 is forever changed, but one thing that remains the same is the love they have for Tabitha.

If you have any information about Tabitha, please call 1-800-THE-LOST. 

Tabitha's family will never stop searching.





Who was "Valentine Sally"?

Thirty-six years ago, on Feb. 14, 1982, the body of a young woman was found outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, in Coconino County - just off I-40, a major highway that runs east-west through much of the U.S.

A law enforcement officer was out searching the area for a tire that had come off a vehicle earlier that day. About 25 feet off the westbound lanes of the highway, he saw a girl’s remains, possibly as young as 15 years old, under a cedar tree. Because she was found on Valentine’s Day, she became known as “Valentine Sally,” and her identity is still unknown to this day. 

Valentine Sally's remains were discovered under this tree off I-40 in Coconino County, Arizona on Valentine's Day 1982.

Valentine Sally's remains were discovered under this tree off I-40 in Coconino County, Arizona on Valentine's Day 1982.

An autopsy revealed she likely died two weeks before she was found, sometime between the last week of January and the first week of February in 1982. Her manner and cause of death are undetermined.

Investigators have chased down many leads, including a few that seemed very promising – a girl was missing from Florida around the same time, but luckily she was found alive. Another lead could still be viable. Law enforcement showed a photo of the sweater the girl was found wearing – white with red stripes – to a waitress at a local truck stop café. 

Valentine Sally was found wearing this red and white striped sweater and “Seasons” brand size 9 jeans.

Valentine Sally was found wearing this red and white striped sweater and “Seasons” brand size 9 jeans.

According to police, the waitress recognized the sweater and gave the following account.

She said that a young woman wearing designer jeans, a red and white striped sweater and blue jacket came into the café in the early morning hours of Thursday, Feb. 4, 1982, accompanied by a white male, about 60 years old and approximately 5’9” or 5’10”. He was wearing a brown leather vest and a cowboy hat decorated with feathers. The waitress told police the man ordered breakfast, but the young woman wanted only aspirin, complaining of a toothache and holding her left jaw with her hand. The waitress said she remembered specifically because she went looking for aspirin for the girl.

So why is this such a strong lead? Besides the matching sweater, law enforcement determined from Valentine Sally’s remains that one of her lower left molars was drilled open for a root canal about a week before she died, but the work had never been completed. She would have been experiencing significant pain in her left jaw.

Even through an extensive investigation, law enforcement has never been able to identify the man allegedly seen with Valentine Sally in the truck stop café, 15 miles from where her body was discovered 10 days later.

But that’s just one lead. No one knows for sure what happened to Valentine Sally.

NCMEC’s forensic services unit, which helps gather resources for investigators of long-term missing child and unidentified child cases, has been working with the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office on this case for more than six years. In 2014, a forensic artist at NCMEC created a new facial reconstruction from Valentine Sally’s skull.

This facial reconstruction created by NCMEC shows what Valentine Sally may have looked like in life.

This facial reconstruction created by NCMEC shows what Valentine Sally may have looked like in life.

“This case is definitely solvable,” said Ashley Rodriguez, a
forensic case manager at NCMEC. “There is so much to work with here – a facial
reconstruction, photos of the clothes and a strong lead suggesting she was seen
in the area prior to her death.”

Investigators are looking to the public for any clue that
could lead to her identification.

Here’s what they know: Valentine Sally was probably between
15-20 years old and was found wearing a striped sweater and designer “Seasons”
jeans. A size 36C bra was also found nearby. She was between 5’5” and 5’6” and
weighed approximately 120 pounds. She had straight, shoulder-length,
strawberry-blonde hair and a healed scar on the front of her right thigh.

“Now it’s really about getting this information out to the
public,” said Rodriguez. We need to find that one person who recognizes her and
is willing to come forward.”

If you have any information on the identity of Valentine
Sally, please call:

  • NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678);
  • The Coconino County Sheriff’s Department at 928-226-5012 (case number 3-0282-0319); or
  • The Coconino County Public Health Services District Medical Examiner Office at 928-679-8775 (case number 82-022).

Click here to view and share Valentine Sally’s poster. 






Christopher Dansby

“It’s the not knowing,” says Alison Dansby, mother of Christopher Dansby. “How could this happen? Why did this happen?”

May 18, 1989 started out like any other day for Alison Dansby and her 2-year-old son Christopher. The pair walked to a park located at Lenox Avenue and West 114th Street in New York City accompanied by a few other relatives, including Christopher’s maternal grandmother. Christopher and Alison lived in an apartment complex close by and visited the park often. Alison left Christopher at the park with her relatives to play while she quickly ran across the street to the local grocery store. Upon her return 20 minutes later, Alison looked for Christopher who had been running around with other children at the park, but he was nowhere to be found. Alison and her relatives searched the whole park, asking other park goers if they had seen a little boy fitting Christopher’s description, but no one had seen little Christopher. Alison contacted the New York Police Department who dispatched officers and started a search for Christopher that unbeknownst to them, would continue for decades.

Shane Walker

On August 10, 1989, Rosa Glover and her 1-year-old son Shane Walker were at the same park, across from the housing complex where they lived. As Rosa sat watching Shane play, two children approached her asking if they could play with Shane, to which she agreed. Shortly thereafter, an unknown man sat down next to Rosa and began talking to her. After briefly speaking with the unknown man, Rosa turned back to look at Shane, but he was gone. Rosa immediately contacted the NYPD who began searching for a little boy, just as they had months earlier.
Shortly after Shane’s disappearance, acting Deputy Chief Ronald J. Fenrich of the NYPD held a news conference to address the cases. Although law enforcement could not definitively state that Christopher and Shane were taken by the same person, the similarities between the two cases could not be ignored. 

MLK Jr Playground and Towers

Aerial View of Martin Luther King Jr. Playground and Towers

Christopher and Shane, both African American toddlers, vanished from the same playground during the evening hours, on the same day of the week, a Thursday. Additionally, both boys reportedly disappeared while playing with the same two children at the park. Law enforcement also received leads suggesting that an unknown individual was seen at the park on both missing dates, but this information could never be verified.

 There have been many theories over the years as to what may have happened to the boys.

“Someone may have taken Christopher to sell him on the black market,” theorizes Alison. “Or maybe took him because they wanted a child of their own.”

Unfortunately, none of these theories have provided law enforcement or the searching families with any answers.
As the years have gone by, the cases of Christopher and Shane have been reviewed and reassigned to several detectives within the NYPD, all hoping to be the one who cracks the case.

Almost 29 years later and Christopher remains in Alison’s mind as the friendly and loving 2-year-old boy, not the 30-year-old man he would be today.

“It has been a long, hard process,” explains Alison. “All this time has gone by and there is still no closure. It’s just not okay. One of my kids is missing and I still don’t know what happened.”

Christopher's Age Progressions

At the time of his disappearance, Christopher was describes as 2 feet 6 inches tall and weighing approximately 30 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair. He also has a birthmark shaped like a figuer "8" on his neck. Forensic artists here at NCMEC have created an age-progressed image to show what Christopher may look like today. 

Shane's Age Progression

Prior to his disappearance, Shane was described as 3 feet tall and weighing approximately 23 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair. Shane also has a small scar under his chin. Forensic artists here at NCMEC have created an age-progressed image to show what Shane may look like today. 

View the NCMEC posters created for Christopher and Shane. If you have any information about Christopher or Shane, please call 1-800-THE-LOST.


February 1, 2018- A Birthday Message to Bethany Markowski From Her Mom on Her 28th Birthday.

Bethany Markowski at 11 and age progressed

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. The silly things you would do, the little sweat bubbles that would pop up on your nose when you got hot. The way you would sing into a brush, but make me turn my back so I couldn’t watch you. That big smile that you always seemed to have on your beautiful little face.Today is another birthday that we will be celebrating without you here. If there is only one thing you remember about me I pray that it is how much I love you. I will never give up on finding you!! Happy Birthday my sweet baby Bethany, I love and miss you with all my heart 💚

(Jonnie Carter, mother of Bethany Markowski)

Bethany has been missing for over 16 years from Jackson, Tennessee. You can find her poster here

Child Sex Trafficking Affects Every Type of Community

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Help NCMEC spread awareness by learning more about the issue.


• Some of NCMEC’s child sex trafficking cases involve boys being exploited
• 1 in 7 runaways reported to NCMEC in 2017 were likely victims of trafficking and 88% of those children were in the care of social services when they went missing.

• NCMEC has responded to child sex trafficking cases in every U.S. state.

• Many of the child sex trafficking victims reported to NCMEC also have other endangerments such as gang involvement.

• A child doesn’t have to disclose information about a trafficker to be a victim of sex trafficking.

• Some cases reported to NCMEC involve children being recruited into sex trafficking by other children in their group home or foster care placement.

• In the past five years, 75 percent of NCMEC’s reports regarding child sex trafficking relate to the trafficking of a child online.

Child sex trafficking involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining or advertising of a minor child for the purpose of commercial sex. To help combat the issue of child sex trafficking, NCMEC established the Child Sex Trafficking Team in 2011. If you suspect child sex trafficking, make a report to NCMEC by calling 1-800-THE-LOST or going online to NCMEC’s team of specialized case managers and analysts are dedicated to specifically responding to child sex trafficking reports.

If you see something, say something.

Giving the Gift of a Fresh Start

Fifteen. That’s the average age of a child sex trafficking victim reported to NCMEC.

These children are expertly recruited by traffickers and buyers who prey upon their vulnerabilities to trap them in a horrifying cycle of abuse.

Child sex trafficking is happening in every state, in communities both large and small across the U.S. At the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we know there’s not one solution to this insidious crime. Intervention and recovery are the first steps.  Survivors of child sex trafficking are victims of a crime and are entitled to and deserve services. Because of the often severe and chronic trauma a child sex trafficking victim has endured moving forward after recovery is rife with challenges.  One way we have identified that we can demonstrate our focus on helping these children is in the first few hours after law enforcement intervenes and recovers a child sex trafficking survivor.

Often children have only the clothes on their backs – the often-inappropriate “costume” they are forced to wear by their trafficker. They may not have anything else.

That’s where our “Hope Bags” come in. They contain basic items to help kids remove their “costume” of clothes and makeup. 


Hope Bags contain a fresh change of clothes, toiletries, snacks and other small comforts, including a note that says:

“We’re here because you’re out there and we care about you. 

This Hope Bag contains some basic items just for you. 

Keep your head up, you are not alone.

-Your friends at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.”

“Hope Bags are given directly to the kids that are being victimized through this crime as they take their first brave steps towards freedom,” said Staca Shehan, who runs the child sex trafficking team at NCMEC.

Since NCMEC started this program three years ago, we’ve created over 2,700 Hope Bags for survivors of child sex trafficking and distributed them to law enforcement, including 850 bags in 2017 alone. 

“Hope bags are a really amazing program,” said Shehan. “It’s something that we developed here in house, but we are completely reliant on donations.”

Want to help? Please consider donating!

$10 provides all new toiletries

$15 provides snacks, a journal and a food gift card

$25 provides a fresh change of clothes and shoes

And for just $55, you can donate a complete Hope Bag and give the gift of a fresh start. 

As a member of the public, it’s our responsibility to keep our eyes open. This is a crime that happens in plain sight. If you ever see anything suspicious, please make a report at or call our 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). You could help save a child’s life.  Children deserve a childhood free from exploitation.


National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Today, January 11, marks the start of National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children established a Child Sex Trafficking Team in 2011 that specializes in providing technical assistance, analysis and recovery services for cases involving child sex trafficking. NCMEC provides “Hope Bags” which contain basic necessities such as toiletries, shoes, snacks and a change of clothes that can be given to recovered victims. 

This year, NCMEC has partnered with A21, a global non-profit working to combat human trafficking on a new PSA, Can You See Me?. 

The PSA, featuring actress Ashley Greene from the Twilight saga, depicts a what it may look like when a child is being sex trafficked. The child in the video is still going to school but her behavior, clothing, and demeanor all change once she becomes a victim of sex trafficking. Traffickers often prey upon a child’s vulnerability and use psychological pressure and intimidation to control the child for financial benefit relating to their sexual exploitation. This happens in every state and every community across the country. Sex traffickers do not discriminate. 


(You may edit, publish, air any of the assets included in this file. 

Credit – National Center for Missing & Exploited Children or NCMEC)

Indicators you will see play out in the PSA include, but are not limited to:  

  • Tattoos or other marking indicating “ownership” by the perpetrator
  • Child starts isolating themselves from friends and family
  • Change in clothing style or appearance – starts dressing provocative 
  • The “boyfriend” or older female starts exerting control over child 

For a full list of potential risk factors and identifiers  and other information can be found on NCMEC's website . 

The public can report suspect child sex trafficking to NCMEC through the CyberTipline or by calling NCMEC’s 24 hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). 

1 in 7

The National Center will be highlighting the issue of child sex trafficking on its blog and social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram  (@missingkids), for the rest of January. 


Pennsylvania State Police and NCMEC: Solving Pennsylvania's Oldest Mysteries


There are thousands of unsolved homicides in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Cases can quickly pile up and some go cold for years, even decades.

Corporal Thomas McAndrew is part of the criminal investigation assessment unit of the Pennsylvania State Police, and one of about 20 investigators statewide responsible for both new and “cold” homicides. For cold cases, they have the immense responsibility of finding ways to move forward with cases that have hit a dead end.

For him, time is both an enemy and friend. 

“There is a clock on all these cases,” said McAndrew. “The longer they go on, the closer they get to forever remaining a cold case.”

While the cases that hit his desk vary greatly, the very worst involve children. 

“When you’re working on the homicide of a child, you become more driven…if you can’t get motivated about trying to resolve a case about a child, then you’re in the wrong business,” said McAndrew.


Detective McAndrew

Corporal Thomas McAndrew at the Troop N State Police Barracks in Pennsylvania.

For years, the Pennsylvania State Police has worked extensively with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to help bring home long-term missing kids – these are kids missing more than six months, and some have been gone for years. PSP also works with NCMEC to help identify Pennsylvania’s unknown child victims. Investigators with PSP are currently working with NCMEC on about a dozen unidentified child cases and many long-term missing child cases.

“At NCMEC, we help review what’s already been done and identify resources that are available that could be applied to their cases to help move them forward,” said Carol Schweitzer, supervisor of the forensic services unit at NCMEC.

“It’s nice to work with likeminded people, and at NCMEC, they’re up on the latest forensic techniques,” said McAndrew. “It’s another avenue of support. The mission we have is to go out and identify these kids so we can find their killer, and NCMEC has that same mission.”

One case that holds special importance to McAndrew is a girl known as Beth Doe, whose body was found right before Christmas in 1976 along the banks of the Lehigh River in Carbon County, Pennsylvania.

She was violently raped, strangled and shot in the neck after she died. She was pregnant, full-term, with a little girl. The fetus was cut from her body and her nose, ears and breasts were removed. 

Her body was dismembered, shoved into three suitcases and thrown from a westbound highway overpass off I-80, which runs east-west through Pennsylvania. 

Kids checking small animal traps near the river below the overpass found the girl’s remains. Investigators say she had been deceased for only a day or two when she was found. She was somewhere between 15-25 years old and called “Beth Doe,” and while we don’t know for sure the origins of the name, investigators say it was likely to differentiate her from other “Jane Does” at the time.

“This was a bizarre case for Carbon County,” said McAndrew. 

Early on investigators tried everything they could to find answers. Several sketches of her face were created by different artists and publicized with the local news media. But no one came forward with answers.

This was 1976. There was no internet or 24-hour news networks. 

“I think if we had all the major news outlets we have today, this case would have been on every TV show, every newspaper,” said McAndrew. “A nine-month pregnant female, murdered within four days of Christmas? Can you imagine?”

But after an exhaustive investigation, leads dried up.

NCMEC’s forensic imaging team created a facial reconstruction for the girl in 2002, after receiving a call from McAndrew. And with advancements in forensic science, McAndrew had the girl’s remains exhumed for testing. 

An exam of her teeth revealed she had dental work done as a child, but her oral health declined significantly in the years before her death. She was likely in pain which may have been noticeable to the people around her. 

It's important to note that while she was found in Pennsylvania, law enforcement says it's unlikely she was from that region. Chemical Isotope testing revealed even more clues. She may have spent her early childhood in southeastern parts of the U.S. that span from regions in Texas to regions in Virginia. Althrough the possibility also existst that she originally migrated from Eastern-Central Europe before coming to the U.S.

NCMEC created a new facial reconstruction of her in 2015 to give the public an image that might spark someone’s memory.


Composite images

The forensic imaging team at the center then went to work enhancing other images that could be crucial to cracking the case - the suitcases she was found in and a bedspread found inside the suitcases. Now, it’s a matter of the right person seeing the images and coming forward with information. 

The suitcase and bead spread found with her

“You know how everyone says there is always one case they want to solve in their career?” said McAndrew. “For me, this is the one.”

Beth Doe is just one of the more than a dozen unidentified child victim cases with which NCMEC is assisting the Pennsylvania State Police. It’s a partnership centered on the idea that no child is ever forgotten. No matter how many years pass, every child deserves the same chance at justice. 

“Every child deserves their name,” said Schweitzer. “They deserve justice, and justice waits.”

If you have any information about Beth Doe, please call the Pennsylvania State Police at 570-459-3890 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).


View Beth Doe (Jane Doe 1976)’s NCMEC poster here.

For a list of missing and unidentified cases in Pennsylvania, visit and search by “state.”


Missing Jeffrey Lynn

GUEST BLOG: Jeffrey Lynn Smith was 16 years old when she went missing on Dec. 4, 1985 from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Lynn’s family has never stopped searching for her. Her sister, Lisa, shared her story of Lynn’s disappearance with NCMEC.

Jeffrey Lynn Smith

Dec. 4, 1985. The town of Hot Springs was decorated for the Christmas season. The smell of fresh pine and wood burning fire places filled the air. The usual bustle of holiday shoppers and kids lined up for their yearly pictures with the jolly old fella was happening everywhere. It was a joyous time...for most.

On the side of town that we called home, fear and uncertainty had consumed the holiday spirit. I remember getting the call from mom. She was crying so hard to the point of being almost inaudible. Through the crackling of her voice, I heard the words that no one would ever want to hear. "Lynn did not come home last night!"

Writing these words gives me the same sick, numb feeling that I felt nearly 32 years ago. It was the first time that Lynn had ever missed a curfew let alone not come home at all. Both of our guts were screaming loudly that something was wrong.

One day turned into weeks. The missing person’s report had been filed. We were out every night searching for Lynn. We tried to retrace her steps that night a thousand times. Her boyfriend, Frank, was the last person to see Lynn. They were walking home from school together and had parted ways with Lynn's friend Lisa.

Frank stayed steadfast by our side during the initial searches. We would pick him up and we would all ride around together looking for Lynn. Then one day my mom and stepfather got a call. The police told them that a local pawnshop had a ring that they believe belonged to Lynn. It's was Lynn's ring that she had received for her birthday. 

Like many families of missing people, we did not feel as if we got the support of the local law enforcement during that time. Rather than having a thorough investigation, we had to resort to visiting psychics and questioning people on our own. 

The contrast of the joyous holiday happenings and us wandering aimlessly in emotional pain made me feel as if I was having an out of body experience. "This can't be happening." "Please, please...somebody pinch me so that I can awake from this nightmare." "I want to wake up to see Lynn sleeping across from me and smell aromas of Christmas dinner." Every night I went to sleep crying with other cries from other rooms as the background noise. There was no Christmas music. There was no watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” that year.

It's been nearly 32 years since Lynn went missing. December is always a month that brings sadness for us. The feelings are hard to overcome no matter how much we try to do Christmassy things. My mom's pain floats around her like a thick's visible. Lynn is not here to enjoy the season with us so it will never feel right. The best thing we can do is good things in Lynn's name during this time. 

We have started a tradition of handing out 16 “Lynn Bags” to homeless and others in need. We take a gallon size baggy and put socks, gloves, a toothbrush, jerky and other food items in them. We then toss in a crisp $5 bill and note with an inspirational quote and Lynn's poster to round out the package. To see the light in people eyes when we hand the bags to them, brings Lynn back to life in those moments.

Jeffrey Lynn Smith

There is not a day that goes by that we don't think of Lynn. My mom, brother and I will never lose hope of finding her one day.


One Child's Legacy

The 19th Anniversary of the First Successful AMBER Alert

Tragically, her life was abruptly ended, but the legacy she left has saved the lives of hundreds of other children.

In 1996, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted while riding her bike in Arlington, Texas and was later found brutally murdered. The AMBER Alert System was established in 1996 and was created as a legacy to Amber Hagerman. AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response” and today it is utilized in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

This November, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children celebrates the 19th anniversary of the very first successful AMBER Alert. 

In 1998, the AMBER Alert System was still new in Arlington, Texas, but it proved to be an invaluable resource when a two-month-old infant went missing. Rae-Leigh Bradbury was abducted from her family’s apartment by her babysitter. Given the circumstances, law enforcement made the decision to activate an AMBER Alert for Rae-Leigh. 

Descriptive information about Rae-leigh, her abductor and the vehicle the two were believed to be traveling in was broadcast throughout the entire local area. Within minutes of activation, law enforcement received a call from a citizen who had spotted Rae-Leigh in the abductor’s vehicle. The safe and quick recovery of Rae-Leigh Bradbury proved how effective the AMBER Alert System could be in the case of a critically missing child. Rae-Leigh returned home with her parents and today, 19 years later, Rae-Leigh is a thriving college student. 

The AMBER Alert Program has continued to be an invaluable resource when it comes to recovering critically missing children. 

“AMBER Alerts are one of the most successful and useful tools that are utilized when it comes to searching for a critically missing child,” says Robert Lowery, vice president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Missing Children Division. “This technology allows law enforcement to issue an immediate call to action to the public in cases of missing children.”

As of Oct. 24, 2017, the AMBER Alert Program is credited with the successful recovery of 897 children.

897 children who were given a second chance, all because of the legacy that one child inspired.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is honored to be part of that legacy and share with you a few of our recent AMBER Alert success stories.

Hallandale, Florida

On July 15, 2017, a 9-year-old girl was abducted by her non-custodial mother while attending church with her custodial grandmother in Hallandale, Florida. The girl and the abductor were seen talking at the church before leaving in the abductor’s vehicle. Due to the abductor’s history, law enforcement issued an AMBER Alert for the missing 9-year-old. Shortly after the alert was activated, a citizen notified authorities that the girl and the abductor were at a gas station. The girl was recovered safely and the abductor was taken into custody. 

Fort Wayne, Indiana

On Aug. 10, 2017, an AMBER Alert was issued in Fort Wayne, Indiana for a missing 2-year-old girl who was forcibly taken by her father after an argument. The child was sitting in a vehicle when the abductor broke the window, pulled the child out and left with her in another vehicle. Due to the nature of the abduction and the abductor’s history, law enforcement issued an AMBER Alert for the missing girl. The alert was sent out in a Wireless Emergency Alert message. After the abductor received the alert, he dropped the child off with a relative who contacted law enforcement. 

Commerce City, Colorado

On Aug. 31, 2017, an AMBER Alert was issued in Commerce City, Colorado after a man broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home and forcibly abducted her and her 1-year-old child. After learning that the abductor may have weapons with him, law enforcement issued an AMBER Alert and began receiving tips from the public due to the Wireless Emergency Alert notification. One tip led law enforcement to the vehicle the three left in and later another tip came in from a citizen who claimed to have seen the abductor, his ex-girlfriend and the 1-year-old child. Law enforcement located both mother and child safely and arrested the abductor. 

Click here to learn more about the AMBER Alert Program and read about other successful AMBER Alert recoveries. 


Thanksgiving: A Time for Family, A Time for HOPE

November 16, 2017

For families of missing children, the prospect of gathering around their Thanksgiving table can be heartbreaking and overwhelming. Many of these families, have had years of searching and hoping that one day they will be reunited with their child and the empty chair at their table will once again be filled. 

The holidays can be painful, but it can also inspire families to continue the search to bring their missing children home safely. NCMEC encourages families to never lose sight of HOPE.

As we approach this holiday season, there are many ways that you can help these families and others:

  • Sharing posters of missing children in your area through social media
  • Making a donation to support NCMEC’s mission of child safety
  • Taking time over the holidays to teach the children in your life how that can stay safer.

Here are just a few of the missing children NCMEC is searching for this holiday season and all year long;

Stephanie Crane
Stephanie Crane

9-year-old Stephanie Crane was last seen on Oct. 11, 1993 around 6:00 p.m. According to witnesses, Stephanie was seen walking towards the Challis High School. At the time of her disappearance, Stephanie was described as 4 feet 2 inches tall and weighing approximately 85 pounds. She has blue eyes and brown hair with a distinctive cowlick on the right side of her hairline. She was last seen wearing maroon sweatpants and a maroon/white striped hooded shirt with the word “GIMME” on the front. The image above on the right shows what Stephanie may look like at the age of 31-years-old. If you have any information about Stephanie, please call 1-800-THE-LOST or the Custer County Sheriff’s Office at 1-208-879-2232. Poster

Jesus De Le Cruz
Jesus De Le Cruz

6-year-old Jesus De Le Cruz was last seen on Sept. 28, 1996 in Lynn, MA. He is believed to have been walking down Park Street around the time he disappeared. He has not been seen or heard from since. Around the time of his disappearance, Jesus was described as 4 feet 6 inches tall and weighing approximately 60 pounds. He has brown eyes and brown hair. Jesus has a scar above his left eye, a birthmark on his left calf and a birthmark on the left side of his forehead. He also has his left ear pierced. The image above on the right shows what Jesus may look like at the age of 19-years-old. If you have any information about Jesus, please call 1-800-THE-LOST, the Lynn Police Department at 781-595-2000 or your local FBI. Poster

Reuben Bennett Blackwell II
Reuben Bennett Blackwell II
Reuben Bennett Blackwell II

3-year-old Reuben Bennett Blackwell II was last seen on May 6, 1996 in Clinton, MD. Reuben was allegedly abducted by his father, Reuben Blackwell, pictured above on the far right. According to law enforcement, Reuben’s father made threats to harm Reuben and himself. A federal warrant for Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution was issued for his father on Sept. 22, 2000; however; Reuben, who may go by the first name “Bennett”, has still not been located. During the time of his disappearance, Reuben was 3 feet tall and weighed approximately 36 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. The image above in the center shows what Reuben may look like at the age of 22-years-old. If you have any information about Reuben, please call 1-800-THE-LOST, the Prince George’s County Police Department at 301-868-8773 or your local FBI. Poster

Kaylah Hunter
Kaylah Hunter
Kaylah Hunter

6-year-old Kaylah Hunter (above on the left) and her 6-month-old brother, Kristian Justice (above on the right) went missing from their home in Detroit, MI on May 24, 2014. The children were last seen in the company of their mother; however, their mother has since been found deceased. Kaylah and Kristian may be traveling in a 2004 burgundy 4-door Chevrolet Impala with Michigan plates CCR1286, similar to the vehicle pictured above in the center. During the time of their disappearance, Kaylah was described as 4 feet 5 inches and weighing approximately 65 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Kristian was described as 2 feet tall and approximately 17 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Kaylah would now be 10-years-old and Kristian would now be 4-years-old. If you have any information about Kaylah and Kristian, please call 1-800-THE-LOST, the Detroit Police Department at 313-596-5600 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAKUP (800-773-2587). Poster 

To learn about other children listed as missing with NCMEC, please visit our website


UK Home Secretary & Other Leaders Meet at NCMEC

Leaders meet at NCMEC


In a united front to help protect children around the world, leaders came together at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to discuss ground-breaking efforts tackling child sexual exploitation.  NCMEC hosted a collaborative roundtable with the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, Amber Rudd, The Canadian Centre for Child Protection, United States Department of Justice and leaders in the technology industry - Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter. 

The event which took place at NCMEC’s Alexandria, VA headquarters showcased Project Arachnid, a program created by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.  Project Arachnid is an essential tool that proactively detects sexual abuse material and notifies hosting providers with a request for immediate removal. 

“NCMEC proudly supports Project Arachnid because we know there is a unique anguish inflicted upon those depicted in child sexual abuse imagery,” said John Clark, NCMEC President and CEO. “We owe it to survivors to do what we can, and collaborate wherever possible, to reduce the availability of child sexual abuse imagery online.”

In partnership with NCMEC, Project Arachnid will be enhanced to create a trusted, global child sexual abuse material hash list and a set of tools to help industry proactively address the misuse of their services. This global initiative, which is being supported by the UK Home Office, allows for unprecedented collaboration between reporting entities, the tech industry, and world leading governments.  

“What we heard from survivors in our international survey was heartbreaking. The recording and possibility of distribution of the sexual abuse they endured as children exponentially compounds the trauma of the abuse itself, and means the abuse never ends for them,” said Lianna McDonald, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “We are proud to stand at the frontlines with NCMEC to protect these most vulnerable of victims.”

NCMEC operates the CyberTipline, a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation. In 2016, the CyberTipline received 8.2 million reports. Most of those reports related to apparent child sexual abuse images, online enticement, including “sextortion,” child sex trafficking and child sexual molestation. Since its inception, the CyberTipline has received more than 20 million reports. 

The technology industry is an important partner in fighting child sexual exploitation both on and offline. NCMEC applauds the continued work to support our mission and combat this growing issue to ensure a safer childhood for kids. The massive volume of reports that CyberTipline receives require action from electronic service providers and we know that this work massive, yet our partners are unwavering in their dedication. 

 “Global collaboration is absolutely essential if we really want to tackle online crimes against children,” says Amber Rudd, UK Home Secretary. “We must all work together to galvanize our efforts to develop meaningful solutions that have a global capacity to help those most vulnerable.”  




Have You Seen Me? - Bringing More Missing Children Home

November 6, 2017

NCMEC’s partner, Valassis, announced today that they are expanding the long-running “Have You Seen Me?” program with what they are calling “50 in 50.” The new initiative will feature the photos of 50 missing children in 50 states. 

This is the latest innovation in a 30-plus year collaboration between Valassis, NCMEC and the U.S. Postal Service. Have You Seen Me? leverages the power of Valassis’ intelligent media delivery to reach over 100 million American households with print and digital images of missing children. 

To date, 159 children have been recovered as a direct result of the program. Valassis is NCMEC’s longest-standing photo partner and a key contributor to information NCMEC receives about missing children. 

To learn more about this program advancement and its potential impact on the search for missing children visit



November 2, 2017

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Takes Child Exploitation Fight to the Cloud

Donated Google Cloud Platform Services Will Exponentially Increase Ability to Help Locate Victims 

ALEXANDRIA, Va., November 2, 2017 – Today, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® announced that a recent donation of compute services is expected to have what NCMEC is calling, a “massive impact” on its fight against child sexual exploitation. The donation of Google Cloud Platform technologies will increase NCMEC’s ability to process and analyze the millions of child sexual abuse images reported to its CyberTipline every year, with a goal of helping law enforcement identify and rescue more child victims. 

“Every report we receive may represent a child that desperately needs help and last year alone we received more than 8 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation, most of which involved child sexual abuse images,” said John Clark, NCMEC president and CEO. “We cannot afford to lose time based on limitations in computing power, so Google Cloud Platform’s ability to expand processing power as needed is a game-changer for us.” 

To date, 215 million images and videos of child sexual abuse have been analyzed by NCMEC. Each image is identified by a hash value, which serves as a digital fingerprint. Though images and videos are sometimes shared multiple times by offenders and may be included in multiple reports, the hash values can be compared to determine which files have been identified and which haven’t. This reduces the time needed to locate images within a report that contain new or unknown victims. 

“Because of the size of the files and the growing number of identified images, the ability to quickly triage reports by comparing hash values was limited on our servers,” said John Shehan, vice president of NCMEC’s Exploited Children Division. “Google Cloud is helping us keep pace, which is critical to our ability to help direct law enforcement to children who are being victimized.”

This donation is the latest in more than a decade of partnership between NCMEC and Google to reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent victimization. In addition to financial support and donated technology, Google also works closely with NCMEC’s engineers and analysts to brainstorm technology solutions and build customized tools. 

For a video with additional interviews and details about the impact of the Google Cloud Platform on NCMEC’s mission, visit


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 250,000 missing children. NCMEC also operates the CyberTipline®, a mechanism for reporting suspected child sexual exploitation, which has received more than 21.5 million reports since it was created in 1998. To learn more about NCMEC, visit or visit NCMEC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.



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:


Child Dignity in the Digital World

October 6, 2017

ChildDignity image

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

GoogleCybertip image

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

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).

View her poster here


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. (
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:

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
 or follow NCMEC on Twitter and Facebook.

About Yaana Technologies

Yaana Technologies ( 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:



Media Inquiry:

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.

Simone Ridinger


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.

Cape Cod


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.

Simone Ridinger

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.

Simone Ridinger

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:


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.



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 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 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

About Honeywell
Honeywell ( 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


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 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 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

Acerca de Honeywell
Honeywell ( 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

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

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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 to place your order today!

June 1, 2017

cst blog

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 You could help save a child’s life.