Last year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assisted law enforcement and families with 29,000 cases of missing children. Of those cases, 91% were endangered runaways, 4% were family abductions, 4% were critically missing young adults between 18 and 20 years old, less than 1% were nonfamily abductions, and 1% were lost, injured, or otherwise missing children. According to NCMEC in 2019, of the nearly 26,300 runaways reported one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
NCMEC has launched a safety pledge website for parents, teachers, and others who work with children to help keep children safe when they’re online.
Washington Police Chief Jim Lester encourages people to take the pledge, “The SafetyPledge.org website has a toolkit, at the top of the page browse the toolkit. There are discussion guides to visit with their kids about appropriate sharing of photos, things like that, who to look out for online. Just communication is key when it comes to kids and the internet.”
He adds that he believes parents should have access to their children’s phones and passwords to their accounts. Lester adds that a central night-time charging station for phones is a good practice at home and doing so helps gives kids a break from the internet and prevents unmonitored activities online. He said if anyone has a concern, they can contact their local law enforcement or contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s cyber tip line.