Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we have so much to be proud of this year: Our dedicated employees helped law enforcement recover 28,872 missing children and handled a record number of reports of suspected child sexual exploitation – more than 29 million – to our CyberTipline. They engaged the public like never before on social media and helped families navigate dangers on the internet as their children spent significantly more time online.
The pandemic restrictions did not deter our non-profit organization from fulfilling its mission to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent child victimization. In fact, we helped more children and families this year than at any time in our 37-year history. In addition, we’ve launched new initiatives to help underserved communities, including child sex trafficking survivors and children in Native, Indigenous and Tribal communities.
Our CyberTipline, the designated place in the U.S. to report suspected child sexual exploitation, surpassed a daunting new milestone this year: 100 million reports, nearly all related to images and videos of children being sexually abused that are circulating on the internet around the world. With help from our technology partners, however, we’ve made enormous strides helping law enforcement disrupt the distribution of these images and videos and recover the children in them and stop the abuse.
With the surge in screen times, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in reports of online enticement of children – from 19,174 before Covid-19 restrictions were implemented to 44,155 this year. In response, we’ve stepped up our prevention efforts, educating parents about online predators who try to entice children for abuse, including sexually explicit photos or to meet for sexual purposes. We launched our second season of “Into the Cloud,” our popular animated NetSmartz series which provides important internet safety information in an age-appropriate and entertaining manner. It’s already reached 3.6 million students and families.
With our ever-expanding online presence, our overall reach this year across social media was more than 80 million people. We have nearly 1.9 million followers across our platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok. We’ve harnessed the power of social media to help find missing children, raise money and inform the public about our issues and free resources through our videos, missing posters and blogs.
I’d like to personally thank the many individuals, corporations, foundations and other donors who chose to invest in us this year, contributing more than $8.4 million for the children and families we serve. Despite economic uncertainty, this has been an outstanding year for philanthropy, with fundraising surpassing our goals.
We simply could not do all that we do without your financial support, including your help with our signature fundraising events, Hope Live and Miles for Hope.
On a personal note, I’ve had the privilege of leading this non-profit organization for more than six years, and I notified the Board of Directors that I’d be stepping down in spring 2022. I can’t overstate what an honor it’s been to serve this great organization and witness the impact our dedicated employees have every single day on the lives of children in this country and around the world. They could not do all that they do without your generous support.
John F. Clark, President and CEO
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children