The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was born in a time of tragedy. In 1979, six year old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school and was never seen again. Twenty-nine children were abducted and murdered in Atlanta, Georgia. And in 1981, six year old Adam Walsh was abducted from a Florida shopping mall and found brutally murdered. These tragic abductions were just a few among were others.
In 1984, police could enter information about stolen cars, stolen guns, and even stolen horses into the FBI’s national crime computer – but not stolen children. That is no longer the case. More missing children come home safely today and more is being done today to protect children than anytime in the nation’s history.
In 1984, the U.S. Congress passed the Missing Children’s Assistance Act which established a National Resource Center and Clearinghouse on Missing and Exploited Children. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was designated to fulfill this role.
On June 13, 1984, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children was opened by President Ronald Reagan in a White House Ceremony. The national 24-hour toll-free missing children’s hotline 1-800-THE-LOST opened as well.