New bilingual initiatives expand the search for missing & exploited Latino children


LatinaLista — “According to Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), about 800,000 children are reported missing every year.

Of that total 58,000 are abducted by non-family members and 200,000 are abducted by family members, usually non-custodial parents. Of the non-family abductions, 23% of the victims are Latino children. In family abductions, 20% are Latino children.

These percentages are alarming because they’re greater than the number Latinos comprise in the total U.S. population, which is about 16%.

Until now, these cases of missing Latino children were lucky to get noticed in communities where Spanish is the dominant language. While the NCMEC counts Univision and Telemundo as key allies in their on-going success in reuniting these families, it was realized more still needed to be done.

So, this week the NCMEC announced that their marketing partner, Valassis, was launching two national initiatives focused on specifically finding missing Latino children.


The first initiative is a new Hispanic missing child newspaper alert.

The second initiative is a bilingual version of the RedPlum™ Shared Mail Wrap Have You Seen Me ® program. This initiative will offer a bilingual version that features full color photos of missing children with key information appearing in both English and Spanish. The new bilingual Wraps will reach over 2.5 million households with over 50% Hispanic population and at least 25% Spanish-speaking at home.

In the 25 years that the NCMEC has made the photos and details of missing child cases available for direct mailing to homes through Valassis, and ADVO, a company bought out by Valassis a couple of years ago, 149 children have been recovered.

“Our underlying premise is that somebody knows,” Allen e-mailed Latina Lista. “If we can reach enough people with the best possible images and information, we can find even more of these children. What we are trying to do is to prod and prompt the public to really look at the pictures. And if they know something, we want them to call us.

“They can be anonymous, but we need their information. The conventional wisdom is that ‘I couldn’t possibly recognize a missing child and reunite a family.’ So, it is a challenge to persuade people to really pay attention, (and) take the two seconds necessary to really look at these photos. But first, we have to reach them and we have to reach them in a manner that is most likely to get their attention and prompt their response.”

The NCMEC already has Spanish-speaking operators on staff to speak with callers anytime of the day or night who may have that important tip police need to reunite familias.

“Our intention through this effort is to try to engage the Hispanic community in the most effective ways that we can,” Allen writes. “And to reach out to them with a plea that this problem affects all kinds of children and all kinds of families, including children and families in their communities.

“Our message is – we need your help.”