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Florida Congressman’s Bill for Missing and Exploited Kids Signed into Law

A bipartisan-supported bill that makes critical updates to help the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and provides better support to youth who are missing, to reduce child sexual exploitation, and to prevent child victimization was signed into law. The bill, known as the Missing Children’s Reauthorization Act of 2023,, was sponsored by Florida U.S. House Rep. Aaron Bean, a Republican representing Florida’s 4th Congressional District.

Bean, who chairs the US House Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee, stressed the importance of ongoing efforts that will continue as a result of the act’s reauthorization, such as modernizing reporting tools to save time for law enforcement and officials.

“As a father of three, I cannot imagine the pain of a missing or exploited child,” Rep. Bean said. “Reauthorizing the MCAA gives hope and encouragement to loved ones during a time of immense heartbreak and uncertainty. Time is a critical factor in the search effort, and this bill will modernize the reporting system, so law enforcement can quickly find missing children and bring closure to countless families. Today is an important step in the fight to prevent child victimization, sexual exploitation, and abductions, and I am proud to see our bill signed into law.”

The MCAA was enacted in 1984 to provide federal coordination of state and local efforts to recover and support missing and exploited children. It has been reauthorized and amended multiple times, most recently by the Missing Children’s Assistance Act of 2018. 

Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT), welcomed the signing of the Missing Children’s Reauthorization Act of 2023 into law.

“In a narrowly divided Congress, it is very encouraging to see enactment of the bipartisan Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act, which I have co-led in the House alongside my Republican colleague Congressman Bean. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has provided critical lifesaving help for families, law enforcement, and child protection agencies that have to be maintained. With President Biden’s signature, we are ensuring the Center has the latest, up-to-date resources it needs to continue protecting children and supporting families, which is particularly important today as more children are falling victim to predatory online practices,” 

Bean and Courtney were joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in authoring the bill. 

“The horrors of the Internet are every parent’s worst nightmare,” Sen. Durbin said.”From the beginning of this Congress, Senator Graham and I have been on a mission in the Senate Judiciary Committee to raise awareness of the harms caused by Big Tech to our kids, pass legislation to hold Big Tech accountable for its failures, and bolster programs that support victims and their families. I’m immensely grateful for NCMEC and its work as an invaluable lifeline – to the tune of 100,000 CyberTips per day concerning child sexual exploitation – and I’m glad these programs will be stronger for years to come.”

The MCAA directs the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to establish a national resource center to carry out many of the objectives of the MCAA. NCMEC, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, has served as the national resource center since enactment of the MCAA in 1984. 

In 2022, NCMEC assisted law enforcement, families, and child welfare agencies with 27,644 cases of missing children and recovered the child in 88 percent of those cases. Specifically, the Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2023 improves NCMEC’s ability to:

  • Assist law enforcement to identify, locate, and recover missing and exploited children;
  • Develop educational materials to reduce the risk of child sex trafficking, online enticement, sexual extortion, and cyberbullying
  • Provide education and technical assistance on conducting background checks on individuals working with children;
  • Offer support services to missing and exploited children and their families; and
  • Facilitate requests to have child sexual abuse material removed from the internet.
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