Technology Increases Rate of Missing Children Recovered

By Carlton Purvis

Success in locating missing children can be attributed to changes in technology and social media, according to a non-profit clearinghouse for missing children.

Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) says its recovery rate in 1990 was 65 percent. Because of technological advances, that rate jumped to 97 percent, he told USA Today.

Allen says cellphone alerts, text messages, digital signage, and social media go a long way in reducing the time it takes to get information out. Time is the enemy when a child disappears, he said--and it doesn’t take long for an abductor to get out of town.

Computer imaging, e-mail, and the Internet have replaced sketches, black and white posters, and mail service, says the NCMEC Web site. “Now, details about a child or potential abductor can be circulated almost instantaneously through e-mail, text messages, social media and other electronic means,” USA Today reported.

NCMEC works with companies like Facebook to provide information on the AMBER Alert program. In conjunction with NCMEC, The Outdoor Advertising Association of America works with operators of digital billboards to establish agreements where details of a missing child are displayed instead of advertisements when an AMBER Alert is issued.

According to the State Department, international child abductions are on the rise. Last summer, the Government Accountability Office Suggested a 'no-fly' list for potential child abductors.

Poster from the NCMEC Web site. Michael Deshaun Jordan went missing last month from Stafford, Virginia.


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