National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Attacks "America's Dirty Little Secret" with New Campaign

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Wednesday, 30 April 2003

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) today announces a national ad campaign to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation. The timing of the ad campaign coincides with NCMEC's launch of a new Family Advocacy Division to expand its services for preventing and responding to child sexual exploitation.

"The sexual victimization of our children is truly America's best kept big secret —largely unrecognized and underreported," said Robbie Callaway, chairman of NCMEC. "Research shows that one in five girls and one in ten boys will be sexually victimized before reaching adulthood. The campaign will raise awareness of this serious problem, how to prevent and respond to it, and how to fight back."

The campaign was created by two parents whose 9-year-old daughter was assaulted by a childcare provider. When the couple first sought help they thought NCMEC only dealt with missing kids. Being marketing and advertising professionals, the couple created the ads to help other families who may not know about NCMEC's resources. The twelve, black and white, full-page ads show the many forms exploitation takes and raise awareness of how to obtain help and prevention tips. The caption of the first ad—The Sound a Child Makes When Sexually Assaulted is Often Silence—underscores why these crimes are often not reported. This ad will run as a special insert on May 1st in USA Today, and the remaining ads will run every two weeks.

The Family Advocacy Division, which expands the services provided by NCMEC's Exploited Child Unit, works with families, law enforcement, and family advocacy agencies to provide technical assistance, referrals, and crisis intervention services. The Division is staffed by a mix of social workers and law enforcement staff.

"The Family Advocacy Division brings together an array of people and resources focused on one goal: preventing and responding to child sexual exploitation," said Ernie Allen, NCMEC's president. "Most people think of NCMEC as a resource for missing children but they don't know about our resources to respond to and prevent child sexual exploitation. We want everyone in the country to know that we're here to help victims and their families."

The ad campaign was undertaken with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Association of Missing and Exploited Children's Organizations. NCMEC's national media partner, USA Today, has made the campaign possible through their generous assistance and promotion of the ads.

About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
NCMEC is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In 1987 NCMEC launched the Child Pornography Tipline and ten years later its Exploited Child Unit. In 1998 NCMEC created the congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation that has handled more than 120,000 leads regarding child molestation (outside of the family), child pornography, child prostitution, online enticement of children, child sex tourism, unsolicited obscene material sent to a child, and the federally mandated reports of child pornography from Internet Service Providers. NCMEC has worked directly with federal, state, and local law enforcement, resulting in hundreds of arrests and prosecutions. NCMEC offers its Team Adam consultants free-of-charge to law-enforcement agencies that are investigating cases of child sexual exploitation. For more information about the campaign, please call 1-800-843-5678 or visit cybertipline.com.

For more information, or to contact National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, see their website at: www.missingkids.org

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