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New Guidelines Created for How 9-1-1 Call Centers Handle Reports of Missing and Exploited Children

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Time is critical when responding to reports of missing or sexually exploited children. How these reports are handled is important and can mean the difference between life and death for many children. Yet, there is no standardized process that is used by the nation's 9-1-1 Call Centers when answering these types of calls. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) today announced that a new standard has been created to address that problem which provides a step-by-step protocol of how call takers should handle calls of missing or sexually exploited children.

NCMEC urges every 9-1-1 Call Center in the country to begin using the new standard, and strongly recommends that all state officials follow the lead of Ohio, and implement the standard at each of their 9-1-1 Call Centers.

Reports of missing or sexually exploited children are among the most difficult and emotionally charged types of calls that are handled by call takers at 9-1-1 Call Centers across the nation. NCMEC feels it is important that: key questions be asked when handling reports for these cases; calls are handled in a consistent manner throughout the U.S., and that call takers need to understand the critical role they play in locating missing children and in helping sexually victimized children.

The statistics are alarming. Somewhere in America each year: 800,000 children will be reported missing; 58,000 children are abducted each year by non-family members primarily for sexual purposes; and approximately 115 children are the victims of the most serous abductions and are either murdered, ransomed or taken with the intent to keep. Children are also at the greatest risk of sexual victimization: 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized before the age of 18, yet only 1 in 3 tell anyone about it

"Time is the enemy in the search for a missing child," said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC. "The greatest likelihood of safe recovery occurs in the early minutes, hours and days following his or her disappearance. In the most serious cases, in 74% of abduction-homicides, the child is dead within the first three hours. Every call and lead is important. It is critical that call takers at the nation's 9-1-1 centers understand these cases and what information they need to obtain from callers. The new standard provides crucial training for the people who handle these types of calls and insure these reports are handled the same way everywhere in America."

The new standard instructs call takers on procedures for handling calls regarding nonfamily and family abductions; lost, injured or otherwise missing children; runaway or thrownaway children; child sexual exploitation; child sexual abuse or exploitation by a family or nonfamily member; child pornography; child sexual molestation; child victims of prostitution; and online enticement of children for sexual acts.

The new standard was created through a joint effort of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO). A Joint Steering Committee on Call Center Best Practices in Cases of Missing and Sexually Exploited Children was established. Members of the steering committee included NCMEC, APCO, the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED), the National AMBER Alert Initiative (U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs), and The National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

The new standard was approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on December 19, 2007. Ohio became the first state to adopt the new standards for statewide use.

A copy of the Standard for Calltakers when Handling Calls Pertaining to Missing and Sexually Exploited Children can be found at the following link:


About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
NCMEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC's congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled more than 570,000 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 140,900 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 124,500 children. For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit www.missingkids.com.

Source: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

NCMEC Communications Department, +1-703-837-6111, media@ncmec.org

Web Site: http://www.missingkids.com/

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