The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), today held a hearing entitled, "Protecting America's Youth: An Update from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children." During the hearing, Mr. John Ryan, president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), discussed the center's ongoing work to protect children and return victims to their families.
Mr. Ryan noted, "NCMEC's success is a testament to Congress' unwavering commitment to the work NCMEC does, and in particular to this committee's support as we continue expanding our public-private partnerships to help protect children from abduction and exploitation and introduce new prevention initiatives to educate parents, teachers and communities on how to keep children safer."
"The only way to describe the work of NCMEC's staff is heroic," said Rep. Rokita. "They are making a difference in the lives of countless children and families. Protecting children has been and must remain a national priority. Mr. Ryan and his staff are to be commended for their hard work and dedication."
Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) echoed those sentiments: "The center and its staff provide an invaluable service to families each and every day. Despite its impressive achievements, we must do more to protect the nation's most vulnerable youth. Toward that end, I am hopeful we will move forward with bipartisan legislation to strengthen support for victims of youth sex trafficking. These efforts, as well as the continued work of NCMEC, will help provide vulnerable youth the assistance they desperately need."
Throughout this morning's hearing, members emphasized the need for continued congressional support of NCMEC and bipartisan efforts to protect vulnerable youth:
Rep. Phil Roe (T-TN)
With our human trafficking bills that Congress passed in a bipartisan way just a few weeks ago, it really helped educate me about the enormity of this problem if you're not really paying attention, and if you don't know what to pay attention to, someone could be right there in front of you, carrying on an apparently normal life and they're not carrying on a normal life.
Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN)
As a U.S. Attorney, I had the opportunity to tour [NCMEC] and was very involved in our Internet crimes against children taskforce thank you so much for your incredible help, I'm interested in learning whether there are any legal impediments that you have in working even closer with law enforcement.
Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA)
One of our most crucial missions [is] keeping our children safe and I appreciate your work. I was pleased to learn of your initiative "Safe To Compete,' which raises awareness of child athletes' sexual abuse and provides training and preparedness opportunities.
Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY)
[NCMEC reauthorization] shows that when we find common ground in the House and the Senate, we can work together. Senator Leahy (R-VT) and I were the primary sponsors of your reauthorization, and I came to tour [NCMEC], which I recommend to all of my colleagues...The techniques you have to go through to find missing children is certainly a skill and an ability and something needed.