Force Agencies to Report Missing Children


Target: President Barack Obama

Goal: Enforce the reporting of missing children by the welfare services in place to protect them

Only two states in the U.S. require child welfare agencies to report when children in their care go missing. Many of the children run away and agencies may refrain from alerting the police in the hopes that the children will simply return on their own. A lack of reporting, however, often leads children to fall prey to abuse without likely rescue.

As John Ryan, CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said, “No one is reporting them missing. Hence, no one is looking for them.”

In a series of child sex trafficking stings across the country over the last 11 years, many of the 3,600 rescued victims were found to have come from the child welfare system and had not been reported missing. “But for operations like this, these children likely would never be found,” says Ryan.

Without a mandated, federal, codified system controlling how child welfare services report disappearances, it’s difficult to say how many children slip through the cracks.

The children who require the welfare systems trying to protect them are already often over-looked and under-represented. Let’s not fail them further by allowing them to disappear without a trace.


Dear President Barack Obama,

In only two U.S. states are child welfare services required to report missing children. Without knowledge of their disappearance, law enforcement is not usually capable of finding them. It’s difficult to find someone you don’t know to look for before it’s too late.

This oversight often allows abusers to prey on children with impunity and makes their rescue unlikely.

Many of the children in the welfare system do run away. Those in the agency may be less likely to report them, believing they may come back and are not in harm’s way. Without a consistent and organized set of procedures for when children do go missing, and without the enforcement of these procedures, it is probable that children will continue to slip through the cracks.

I urge you to enforce and codify procedures within child welfare agencies for the reporting of missing children in that agency’s system.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Kyra Malicse via Wikimedia Commons

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