Missing Children:

Missing Children Data Collected by the National Crime Information Center

GGD-86-41FS: Published: Jan 28, 1986. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed several questions concerning the: (1) number of missing children; (2) impact that different state laws have on locating missing children; and (3) effectiveness of methods used to locate missing children.

GAO noted that: (1) the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) provides federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies with computer access to documented information on missing persons; (2) all states enter data on missing persons into the NCIC missing persons file; and (3) the missing persons file contains information on individuals who are disabled, endangered, juveniles, or kidnapped. GAO found that: (1) approximately 90 percent of the cases in the missing persons file are juveniles; (2) as of November 1, 1985, there were 12,000 entries in the unidentified persons file, but only a few of them were juveniles; and (3) on November 1, 1985, NCIC had 49,000 active cases in the missing persons file, of which 36,000 were in the juvenile category. GAO also found that: (1) the Uniform Crime Report Program is undergoing a major overhaul to collect more comprehensive information about criminal incidents, including parental kidnappings; (2) the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is required to periodically conduct national incident studies to determine, for a given year, the actual number of children missing, the number of children who are victims of abductions by strangers or parental kidnappings, and the number recovered; (3) a national study of law enforcement agencies' policies and practices regarding missing children and homeless youth is scheduled to start in early 1986; and (4) the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children maintains its own database on children who have been kidnapped by a parent or nonfamily member or have run away.

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