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Foxx Statement: Hearing on “Honoring Our Commitment to Recover and Protect Missing and Exploited Children”

So much of the work we do on this committee is about creating opportunities for individuals to learn, grow, and achieve success in their lives. Unfortunately, statistics and the nightly news continue to act as shocking reminders that too many children in this country aren’t thinking about the future. They’re thinking about their survival. Last year alone, there were more than 465,000 reports of missing children.

No child should live in fear of being taken from his or her family. No child should live in fear of abuse or exploitation. No child should live in fear of becoming the victim of a heinous crime.

No child should live in fear. Period.

That’s why protecting our most vulnerable children has long been a national priority. In 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC, was created to play a role in that important effort.

Since that time, NCMEC has coordinated and supported state and local efforts to recover children who are missing and support youth who are victims of violent crimes. The organization works with law enforcement, families, schools, community leaders, and nonprofit organizations with a shared goal — providing help to children who are in desperate need of protection.

Through a number of initiatives and programs, NCMEC operates a 24-hour hotline and a CyberTipline; maintains a nationwide database on cases of missing children; and provides technical assistance to other recovery and prevention efforts. The organization also coordinates resources to victims, their families, and the professionals who help them; and it engages in public-private partnerships to assist state, local leaders, and community partners in their efforts.

As President Ronald Reagan said when opening NCMEC in 1984:

“No single sector of our nation can solve the problem of missing and exploited children alone. But by working together, pooling our resources, and building on our strengths, we can accomplish great things.”

Today, NCMEC continues the mission articulated by President Reagan more than 30 years ago. In 2016, the center assisted with approximately 21,000 cases of missing children. Of those cases, 90 percent were endangered runaways, and roughly one in six of those children was a likely victim of child sex trafficking.

Over the years, Congress has worked closely with NCMEC to ensure it has the tools it needs to do its job effectively. We have also worked to ensure taxpayer dollars being used to support the center’s efforts are spent responsibly. And that’s the purpose of this hearing — for an update from the organization itself. Today, we have with us John Clark, president and chief executive officer of NCMEC.

Mr. Clark, we are pleased to hear from you about the work NCMEC is doing to help vulnerable children across the country, as well as the challenges you face and improvements that can be made to help NCMEC continue its work. As I stated earlier, your efforts play a critical role in a national commitment to help our most vulnerable children.

In the words of President Reagan, “Together, we can turn the tide on these hateful crimes.” I look forward to continuing to work with you — and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle — to do just that.