Our Impact
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Our Impact Find Missing Children Reduce Child Sexual Exploitation Prevent Victimization

Our Impact

In 1984, John and Revé Walsh and other child advocates founded the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as a private, non-profit organization to serve as the national clearinghouse and resource center for information about missing and exploited children.

During the last 37 years, our national toll-free hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST®, has received more than 5 million calls. We’ve circulated billions of photos of missing children. Our peer-support program, Team HOPE, has provided resources to more than 77,000 families. We’ve assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 355,000 missing children.

Hope is why we’re here.

At NCMEC, hope drives us and fuels our promise to never stop. The threats our kids face are constantly evolving, and we work hard every day to identify those threats and figure out how to better protect children. And while the way we do our work is ever-evolving, our commitment to children will never falter.

Here’s a look at what we saw in 2020 and the impact we're making in the fight to protect children.

Find Missing Children

Unfortunately, since many children are never reported missing, there is no reliable way to determine the total number of children who are actually missing in the U.S.

When a child is reported missing to law enforcement, federal law requires that child be entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, also known as NCIC. According to the FBI, in 2020 there were 365,348 NCIC entries for missing children*. In 2019, the total number of missing children entries into NCIC was 421,394.

In 2020, NCMEC assisted law enforcement, families and child welfare with 29,782 cases of missing children.

*This number represents reports of missing children. That means if a child runs away multiple times in a year, each instance would be entered into NCIC separately and counted in the yearly total. Likewise, if an entry is withdrawn and amended or updated, that would also be reflected in the total.

Children Intaked at NCMEC Between 1/1/2020 and 12/31/2020 
Organized by Case Type and Case Status

Case Type Case Status Total
  Active Resolved  
Endangered Runaway 2,042 25,030 27,072
Family Abduction 287 1,109 1,396
Lost, Injured, or Otherwise Missing 20 219 239
Missing Young Adult 75 921 996
Nonfamily Abduction 9 70 79
Total 2,433 27,349 29,782

Children who run away make up a majority of the missing child cases reported to us. These children are highly vulnerable and face many risks including homelessness, gang involvement and child sex trafficking. Many children who run away are leaving from the care of social services. Federal legislation requires that state agencies report children missing from their care to both law enforcement and NCMEC. For more information about children missing from care, click here.

Missing Children by Age and Race

Children Intaked at NCMEC Between 1/1/2020 and 12/31/2020 
Organized by Child's Age Group and Race

Age Group

Age Group Native American Asian Multiracial Black Hispanic Pacific Islander White Unknown Total
Unknown 3 0 2 17 6 0 13 12 53
Less than 1 to 2 4 1 72 215 109 1 139 20 561
3 to 5 6 6 50 128 85 1 105 10 391
6 to 8 6 2 39 74 57 2 112 9 301
9 to 11 5 1 51 127 75 1 114 20 394
12 to 14 96 29 716 1,928 1,155 18 1,923 234 6,099
15 to 17 326 108 1,989 6,574 3,735 70 7,521 658 20,981
18 to 20 5 4 65 416 123 2 305 82 1,002
Total 451 151 2,984 9,479 5,345 95 10,232 1,045 29,782

Missing Children by State

Missing children are reported to us by parents, guardians or law enforcement. With the exception of children missing from care, there is no mandatory reporting of missing children to NCMEC. Below is a breakdown of cases by state reported to NCMEC in 2020. This does not represent all missing children in every state. A large number of cases is not an indication of any issues within a state, but it is an indicator of active reporting of missing children within that state. For all children reported missing in your state, contact your missing child clearinghouse.

Children Intaked at NCMEC Between 1/1/2020 and 12/31/2020
Organized by Missing State and Case Status

Missing State Case Status Total
  Active Resolved  
Alabama 48 201 249
Alaska 8 74 82
Arizona 145 691 836
Arkansas 37 247 284
California 327 1,501 1,828
Colorado 65 770 835
Connecticut 8 144 152
Delaware 10 51 61
District of Columbia 3 45 48
Florida 125 2,072 2,197
Georgia 84 711 795
Hawaii 8 90 98
Idaho 12 116 128
Illinois 89 1,018 1,107
Indiana 48 476 524
Iowa 7 49 56
Kansas 41 685 726
Kentucky 37 216 253
Missing State Case Status Total
  Active Resolved  
Louisiana 22 238 260
Maine 0 8 8
Maryland 54 628 682
Massachusetts 47 931 978
Michigan 47 480 527
Minnesota 15 256 271
Mississippi 17 134 151
Missouri 65 586 651
Montana 1 34 35
Nebraska 19 233 252
Nevada 35 319 354
New Hampshire 0 96 96
New Jersey 27 209 236
New Mexico 18 88 106
New York 143 2,359 2,502
North Carolina 42 455 497
North Dakota 3 69 72
Ohio 106 2,153 2,259
Missing State Case Status Total
  Active Resolved  
Oklahoma 20 291 311
Oregon 27 614 641
Pennsylvania 111 986 1,097
Puerto Rico 25 34 59
Rhode Island 19 424 443
South Carolina 42 330 372
South Dakota 1 7 8
Tennessee 55 427 482
Texas 226 3,362 3,588
Utah 15 187 202
Vermont 1 37 38
Virginia 26 270 296
Washington 39 1,546 1,585
West Virginia 20 41 61
Wisconsin 19 340 359
Wyoming 1 10 11
International 23 10 33
Total 2,433 27,349 29,782

This is a one-year snapshot of 2020.
This does not include active cases from previous years where a child was still missing in 2020. This chart also includes recoveries in 2020 of children who were reported missing in previous years. A child that was reported missing on Dec. 31, 2020, would still be listed as active on this chart.


One of the first ways many people are introduced to NCMEC is through the AMBER Alert program. AMBER Alerts are activated by law enforcement in the most serious child-abduction cases.

We’ve been tasked by the U.S. Department of Justice to handle the secondary distribution of these alerts, which includes cell phones, social media, billboards and more.

Check out more about the AMBER Alert program and get answers to frequently asked questions here.

1,053 children have been successfully recovered as a direct result of the AMBER Alert program as of Dec. 31, 2020.


When a child has been missing for more than two years, a photograph may no longer show what that child looks like present day. NCMEC’s specialized artists working on the forensic imaging team create age-progression images of children as they mature so the public has a more accurate representation of what that child may look like now. 

In 2020, NCMEC’s forensic artists age-progressed
195 long-term missing children; and more than 7,100 since the team began this work in 1989.

This team of artists also creates facial reconstructions for unidentified deceased children. They work closely with our case managers who are helping law enforcement determine the child’s identity. Until we’re able to give them their name back, we can give them their face.
In 2020, NCMEC’s forensic artists created 49 facial reconstructions for unidentified deceased children; and more than 600 to date.
Overall, NCMEC has assisted in 185 identifications of unidentified deceased children.

Team Adam

Named in honor of Adam Walsh, Team Adam provides rapid, onsite assistance to law enforcement and families during critical cases involving missing children. They are retired law enforcement professionals with years of experience at the federal, state and local levels. 

In 2020, Team Adam deployed to the scene of 29 cases of critically missing children; and has deployed more than 1,200 times since Team Adam began in 2003. And with COVID restrictions in place during 2020, Team Adam did virtual consultations on an additional 28 critical cases.

Team Adam consultants also assist law enforcement with long-term missing cases, bringing knowledge of landfill assessments, search and rescue, biometrics collection and the integration of all other available NCMEC resources.

Lead Development

As a private, non-profit organization NCMEC has a unique ability to engage in public-private partnerships to achieve our mission. Through the in-kind donation of data, technology, and other tools, specialized analysts develop information and leads to support the recovery of missing children.

In 2020, NCMEC responded to 4,234 requests for information to support the recovery of missing children.

Attempted Abductions

In order to better inform law enforcement, the public and our safety materials, NCMEC tracks and analyzes attempted child abductions and related incidents. Analyzing these crimes enables us to teach families how to better protect their children and provide law enforcement with tools that can help guard their communities.

In 2020, NCMEC tracked and analyzed 720 attempted abductions; and has analyzed a total of 18,335 attempted abductions since we began tracking in 2005. 

Reduce Child Sexual Exploitation

NCMEC plays a vital role in the fight to reduce child sexual exploitation online. We’ve reviewed millions of images of child sexual abuse in an effort to find the child and help law enforcement rescue them from abusive situations. Every day, we work to disrupt the trading of child sexual abuse images and videos online and help survivors begin to rebuild their lives. 


NCMEC operates the CyberTipline®, a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation. Since its inception in 1998, the CyberTipline has received more than 96 million reports.

In 2020, the CyberTipline received more than 21.7 million reports, up from 16.9 million reports in 2019, most of which related to:

Apparent child sexual abuse material.
Online enticement, including “sextortion.”
Child sex trafficking.
Child sexual molestation.
These reports to the CyberTipline included 65.4 million files with 33,690,561 images, 31,654,163 videos, and 120,590 other files.

303,299 of those reports from 2020 were from the public and 21.4 million were from electronic service providers.  Reports of online sexual exploitation from the public more than doubled in 2020.  For a full chart of the number of reports from ESPs in 2020, click here.

Child Victim Identification

When law enforcement seizes child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in an investigation, they need to quickly figure out the identity of the children in the images and videos and determine if they are safe, or their abuse is ongoing.

NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program (CVIP) serves as the nation’s clearinghouse on identified child victims of CSAM. Files containing unidentified children are reviewed and analyzed for any information as to their potential location or who is responsible for their abuse. When this information can be determined, CVIP provides the analysis to the appropriate law enforcement, both domestic and international. 

In addition, NCMEC's CVIP connects police who are investigating the collection of CSAM with the police who originally identified the child victim(s) depicted in the files so they can provide additional information to assist prosecution of CSAM collectors.

NCMEC also helps track the distribution of files of identified children. Many of these child victims, now adults, may choose to share their voices through victim impact statements at sentencing. Or they may want to receive notification from federal or state prosecutions of individuals who possessed or distributed images or videos of their abuse. These victims are eligible for restitution to cover medical expenses, therapy costs, lost wages and more. While NCMEC does not notify victims, we are a critical step in the process, alerting the agencies to the presence of a victim in a case and working with victims and their lawyers on the restitution process. 

Since the program inception in 2002, CVIP has reviewed more than 330 million images and videos.

In 2020, NCMEC received 3,220 requests from law enforcement, containing more than 15 million images and videos. Analysts help determine if the children depicted have been previously identified or if they are unknown or new victims.

Number of Requests
by Agency


  US Federal Law Enforcement - 1,240 11,598,925 472,640
  Local/State/ICAC - 1,852 3,368,659 215,203
  Military - 113 90,501 8,702
  International - 15 28 7
  Grand Total - 3,220 15,058,113 696,552

Actively traded images and videos

NCMEC's Child Victim Identification Program serves as the U.S. clearinghouse for information on child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and has enrolled cases of more than 19,000 identified children in the program.

Of those, over 2,100 children are depicted in imagery considered “actively traded,” meaning the images or videos have been seen in multiple reports to NCMEC.

Relationship of offender to child in actively traded images and videos








Type of Relationship # of Known Relationships % of Total Victim Relationships
Parent/Guardian 499 21.71% 
Other Relative 275 11.96%
Neighbor/Family Friend
Babysitter/Mentor/Coach 181  7.87%
Guardian’s Partner  56 2.44% 
Online Enticement 333  14.48%
Self-Production  230 10.00% 
Child Sex Trafficker
80  3.48%
Unknown to Child 112 4.87% 

Due to the permanency of the imagery, CSAM can cause continual victimization to survivors, even decades after the sexual abuse ends. That’s why NCMEC works to help CSAM survivors and their families by connecting them with mental health and legal professionals as well as peer support networks to assist in their recovery.  In addition, NCMEC facilitates the sending of alerts to tech companies who are inadvertently hosting CSAM on their platforms.

Child Sex Trafficking

Child sex trafficking is a crime that is happening everywhere. NCMEC has received reports from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico and in every type of community: suburban, rural, urban and tribal lands. There’s no one version of what child sex trafficking looks like. We’ve seen children victimized while living at home, trafficked by a pimp or even family members. Children who have run away are disproportionately targeted by traffickers and buyers, who prey upon vulnerabilities and a child's need for basic resources like food and a place to live.

In 2020, NCMEC responded to more than 17,000 reports regarding possible child sex trafficking.

Of the more than 26,500 cases of children reported missing to NCMEC in 2020 who had run away, 1 in 6 were likely victims of child sex trafficking.

Survivors of child sex trafficking have experienced significant trauma.  That’s why NCMEC works to support families and child welfare workers in preparing for the recovery of their missing child.  Ensuring survivors of child sex trafficking receive trauma-informed response and specialized services immediately upon recovery is crucial to their support and healing.

Sex Offender Tracking

NCMEC’s Sex Offender Tracking Team assists law enforcement in their efforts to locate noncompliant sex offenders. The team also works to link information about noncompliant sex offenders to unresolved cases of missing and sexually exploited children known to NCMEC.

In 2020, NCMEC assisted with more than 13,740 requests to help locate noncompliant sex offenders. Of those, feedback indicates that 6,764 noncompliant sex offenders were subsequently located/arrested.

Prevent Victimization

NCMEC is unique in that we receive millions of reports each year about missing and exploited children through our hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST, and our CyberTipline. This data allows NCMEC to identify trends first-hand and create prevention resources to address the evolving needs of children both online and in the real world.  All our resources are free, age-appropriate and designed for many audiences, including children, parents and educators. 


“Have used Netsmartz for years! Love it and the kids love it!”
-Elementary school technology teacher



“I really like this program. Students respond well and the info is current.”
-Elementary school librarian


Prevention Programs

NCMEC provides safety and prevention resources for families and child-serving professionals focusing on the topics of online and real-world safety, including skills on how to handle a variety of situations ranging from staying home alone to knowing what to do in case of an emergency, to abduction and child sexual exploitation prevention.

Our prevention resources have been viewed in all 50 states and more than 180 countries.


We also know that when a child goes missing or is sexually exploited, a law enforcement agency that is trained in these issues will be better prepared and will hopefully see a better outcome. NCMEC has trained law enforcement and other professionals who work in all 50 states and 33 countries. 

NCMEC has trained more than 382,000 law enforcement, criminal/juvenile justice and healthcare professionals.

We know it takes everyone working together to keep kids safe. That’s why we launched our new online training platform, NCMEC CONNECT. This platform is your virtual gateway to on-demand trainings, virtual discussions and resources about online child safety, prevention and how you can better protect the children in your community.

NCMEC CONNECT has over 9,500 active users

Public Engagement

At the end of 2020, total social media followers for NCMEC (@MissingKids) had grown to 1.3 million across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok.
In 2020, our social media properties’ average monthly reach was over 15 million people.
Missingkids.org had 11.7 million visitors in 2020.

We want to thank the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, our corporate partners, individual donors and everyone who has contributed resources and funds to support NCMEC’s mission to find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent victimization. We couldn’t do our vital work without all of you.

We will #NEVERSTOP protecting children.