U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), founder and Co-Chairman of the Senate Caucus for Missing, Exploited and Runaway Children and founder of the Financial Coalition to Fight Child Pornography, today announced that the Protect Our Children First Act has passed the Senate. The bill will now be sent to the President for consideration.
“Almost every week we are confronted with news stories describing heinous acts towards children,” said Shelby. “This legislation is necessary to provide law enforcement with new innovative tools to crack down on child pornography and recover missing children.”
“The work the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children does every day to eradicate the various types of child exploitation cannot be overstated and this legislation will continue to make it possible for NCMEC to continue with these endeavors,” said Shelby. “Now, more than ever, it is vital that the NCMEC has the resources necessary to continue child advocacy and continue to be a critical resource to federal, state and local law enforcement efforts to recover missing and exploited children. The important provisions outlined in this bill will help to make our communities safer and our children more secure. In the end, I believe this legislation will make the nation a safer place for our children.”
The Protect Our Children First Act, introduced with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Blanche Lincoln (R-Ark.), works to eradicate child pornography, combat exploitation, punish sex offenders and find missing children. This legislation reauthorizes several laws pertaining to missing children’s assistance programs, most notably the 1984 Missing and Exploited Children’s Program that created both a toll-free number to report missing children and a national resource center and clearinghouse. The bill coordinates public and private missing and exploited children’s programs and provides training and technical assistance related to missing children. Since 1984, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has carried out these duties in collaboration with U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, resulting in the recovery of more than 112,900 children. This Act will expand the ability of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to protect our children by extending NCMEC’s authorization through 2013.