Maloney Bill Would Improve Reporting of Runaway Children
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-14) today announced that she has introduced legislation to help improve our nation’s system of reporting runaway children. It is estimated that at least 1.6 million juveniles run away or are thrown out of their homes annually, but recent reports in the New York Times have indicated that 16% of reported runaways are never entered in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database as missing persons, as required by law.
“Shockingly, many runaway children are missing not only from their homes, but also from the very database meant to help law enforcement officers find them,” Maloney said. “If no one knows that a child is missing, that child is unlikely to be found. The necessary resources are already in place; my bill will help ensure that those existing resources are used to find and protect the children who need them most.”
Maloney’s bill, the Runaway Reporting Improvement Act of 2009 (H.R. 4129), would require that law enforcement agencies certify that they comply with federal law by entering all missing children into the NCIC database. Second, the bill would require that law enforcement officers provide to anyone who reports their child missing information about the services of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Runaway Switchboard, as well as 24-hour, toll-free contact information for those resources. NCMEC and NRS have a long and successful history of helping parents and law enforcement agencies work together to find and protect missing kids.
According to the Times’ two-part series “Running in the Shadows,” 9,625 out of the 61,452 runaways reported from January 2004 to January 2009 were never entered into the NCIC. 267 of the unreported runaways remain missing, and 58 have been found dead.
“This is unacceptable,” Maloney added. “Without an NCIC entry, law enforcement officers will not share information or resources, and are much less likely to find or protect a missing child. We simply must do better by our children.”
“This bill will provide desperately needed resources to families in their darkest hour, when their child has run or is missing from home,” said Maureen Blaha, Executive Director of the National Runaway Switchboard. “The National Runaway Switchboard commends Representative Maloney for her leadership in promoting our free, confidential 24-hour 1-800-RUNAWAY hotline where hope and help is just a phone call away.”
Congressmen Chris Smith of New Jersey, John Conyers of Michigan, and Dennis Cardoza of California are co-sponsors of the bill.
For complete bill text, click here.