Mr. Speaker, protecting our children is one of the most important things that we can do for society. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25th as National Missing Children’s Day. 

There are very few situations more difficult than when a family member, especially a young child, disappears. As a former Judge and prosecutor, this is something that I saw first-hand. 

What do you say to a parent of a missing child? Words are hard to find. 30 years ago, a missing child was akin to a death sentence. A child could be abducted, taken across state lines, and never be seen again.  

Our best method of locating a missing child was to plaster their images on the sides of milk cartons, encouraging our communities to be on the lookout—a stark reminder of how far we have come. 

Last year, in 2017, there were 464,324 children reported as missing in the United States. The statistics paint a grim picture. Of the nearly 25,00 runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in seven were likely victims of human trafficking.

As technology has evolved, so has the way in which we search for missing children. With today’s technology, the likelihood of finding an abducted child has seen a sharp increase, mostly due to technological advances, social media, and the way in which searches are conducted.

Before the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there were little or no resources available to assist law enforcement with the cases of missing children. 

In fact, there was no way for police to enter information about missing children into the FBI’s national crime computer. Today, thanks to the work of this outstanding organization’s work, this is no longer the case. 

Many children owe their rescue to the center, and many parents are grateful for the return of their kids. Mr. Speaker, as we observe National Missing Children’s Day 2018, it is our duty to ensure that children of this country are protected from those who wish to do them harm.

As we celebrate the good work that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children does, we pray for those children who have not returned home.

And that’s just the way it is.