Protecting the vulnerable

If you read through this blog at all you’ll discover that the mission of A Child is Missing (ACIM) is to protect the people in society who are most vulnerable. At the top of the list of those most vulnerable are, of course, elderly adults and children. This organization’s long-standing original mission was to find lost children and we have now evolved past simply finding the lost and have moved on to championing the measures necessary to assist in locating lost people.

ACIM also identifies specific groups that merit further need. Those afflicted with autism are one of those groups. Did you know that 1 in 68 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Like many special needs children, autistic children are susceptible to accidents. For example, between 2009 and 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91 percent total U.S. deaths reported in children and children with autism age 14-and-younger are subsequent to wandering.

Children with ASD might have average intelligence but they usually have little interest in other people, a limited verbal vocabulary, experience intense self-stimulatory behaviors such as hand-flapping, under-react to pain and over-react to sounds, have very good gross motor skills and have weaknesses in fine motor skills.

Those symptoms become more problematic when the autistic child is considered a “runner.” Wandering in autism is defined as: when a person who needs supervision to be safe and also as the act of a person leaving a safe space which exposes them to potential dangers. This may also be referred to as elopement, bolting, fleeing and running. Most of us understand the communication issues that arise when encountering autistic children so it’s understandable the anxiety that may exist when rescuing autistic children wander.

While many of us understand the obstacles to communicating with autistic people, it’s likely that many of us don’t know how to effectively reach out to people with this this disability. When seconds count in locating a lost person, this can result in a tragic hindrance if care is not taken.

Many autistic children are non-verbal or may only repeat what they hear. They may only use hand gestures to communicate and may be argumentative and stubborn. They could appear to be under the influence of drugs or walk pigeon-toed. They may not recognize danger and may be slow to recognize police vehicles or badges. To complicate matters, they are attracted to shiny objects such as badges, handcuffs and even guns.

Responses that are likely to connect with autistic people are slow movements, reassurance they will not be harmed, using as few words as possible and always remembering to look for medical ID bracelets or cards. One of the most important things to remember when communicating is that autistic people are sensitive so touching them, even to offer your hand, is probably not a good idea.

Knowing how to swiftly and effectively communicate with autistic children can be the difference between finding and losing a child. That is a difference ACIM wants to make!


You can help

There’s a lot that goes on at A Child is Missing. We’re a lot more than just finding lost children. We also find the elderly and support anti-bullying initiatives. With all this going on, sometimes we just need to toss out some information that shows our accomplishments and catch us all up with the mission of the organization.

As of November 1, 2013, here are three impressive statistics of ACIM since it was established back in 1997:

  • We are working in conjunction with 5,048 law enforcement agencies nationwide;
  • We have been actively involved in 39,514 cases; and
  • We have placed 63,037,752 (that’s 63 million!) alert calls to date.


Numbers, however, could never really speak for all the work we do at A Child is Missing. Of course, each case is more than just a number, they represent people. There are faces behind every one of those numbers. Most importantly, every case and every number represents a family that has been reunited.

We think we have accomplished a lot as a non-profit organization that relies on outside funding. We know we can do more, though. While you can’t put a price on our services, we can’t produce anything for retail sale so we depend on private donations and government funding. It’s that last opportunity we want to bring to light here because we need your help.

U.S. House Bill H.R. 3388, known as The Child and Elderly Missing Alert Program, will provide valuable funding to further the reach of organizations like A Child is Missing. CEMAP is modeled after ACIM and the government’s proposed funding fills the gap between Amber, Silver and Blue Alerts. Passage of this bill will cover the hard costs of making the outgoing calls, support law enforcement with training sessions and establish community awareness meetings involving child safety is many areas.

Once the bill is passed, it doesn’t guarantee funding for A Child is Missing but ACIM founder Sherry Friedlander is one of the bill’s strongest supporters. The funding process would involve a competitive bid process and any submission must be from a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The funding would span five years.

While ACIM believes it would be a perfect fit for the funding, it’s more important to get the bill passed so that deserving organizations will have the chance to help more children and elderly. Representative Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida) are the sponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives. Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) are sponsors of the bill in the Senate. We urge you to contact your state’s legislator in support of the bill.

Just in case you missed how important our mission is, ACIM has assisted in more than 1,400 recoveries from New Castle County, Massachusetts to Aurora County, Colorado. We’re assisting law enforcement agencies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida to the Brooklyn Park Police Department Minnesota.

People are missing in every state. Help us secure resources to find them.

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Children aren’t the only people are exploited.

There’s this notion among many of us that once a person becomes an adult, we can take care of ourselves. Make our own decisions. We can move out of the house. Be on our own. Come and go as we wish. We do live in a free country after all.

Truth is adults are also forced into forms of modern slavery and A Child is Missing doesn’t like that one bit either.

There are thousands of adults around the world that find themselves being sex trafficked, forced into labor, bonded labor or debt bondage and forced into domestic servitude. People can be victims regardless of whether they were born into servitude, were transported to the exploitative situation, previously consented to work for a trafficker, or participated in a crime because of being trafficked.

Many times the victim seems like an adult perfectly capable of defending themselves. In these cases, A Child is Missing goes to work assisting law enforcement in a rescue.

It’s sometimes easier for a person with moral standards to identify a child being forced into a form of modern slavery. If it seems a child is in a compromising position, then many times they are. For adults, the bondage can be a little more ambiguous.

Sex Trafficking

This happens when an adult is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution. Or, the person is maintained in prostitution through one of these means after initially consenting. A child cannot consent to these types of adult relationships. Adults can, though. However, a sexual relationship should always be consensual and sex trafficking is slavery, not consensual, and no person of any age should be forced.

Forced Labor

Migrants are particularly vulnerable to this form of human trafficking, but individuals also may be forced into labor in their own countries. Many migrants come to our country seeking the American Dream. That dream should not become a nightmare in any occasion.

Bonded Labor or Debt Bondage

A hope of the American Dream is to pass on resources to the generations that come behind you. Some workers, though, inherit debt. For example, in South Asia it is estimated that there are millions of trafficking victims working to pay off their ancestors’ debts.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude

And then, there are the repercussions of what happens in modern slavery. Investigators and service providers report many cases of untreated illnesses and, tragically, widespread sexual abuse, which in some cases may be symptoms of a situation of involuntary servitude.

Even though we are A Child is Missing, we care equally about adults. America’s Declaration of Independence states that people are created with unalienable rights. That’s really pretty universal. ACIM wants to make sure that all people are free to enjoy all their rights!

Methodology: The Department of State prepared parts of this Report using information from U.S. embassies, government officials, nongovernmental and international organizations, published reports, news articles, academic studies, research trips to every region of the world, and information submitted to

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Don’t let the name mislead you. A Child is Missing is not just about finding lost children. It’s much more.A Senior is Missing

Every missing person of any age is someone’s loved one. Every missing person touches someone’s life. That’s why A Child is Missing also has alert programs for the elderly and the disabled. We can probably all relate to cases in which elderly adults can be as innocent and helpless as a young child, and sometimes with the same mental or physical capacities.

We’ve all likely encountered two of the most dreaded afflictions of the elderly: Alzheimer’s and dementia. Maybe even directly in our own families. We’ve probably seen strong, independent adults lose battles with these diseases that attack their mental capacities, including their cherished memories and ability to communicate effectively.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six in 10 people with some form of dementia are prone to wandering. Their primary “destinations” are home or work, often times to where they lived and worked when they were younger. Those “homes” or “places of work” may even be several states away.

They are also capable of becoming disoriented in seemingly familiar places, even as familiar as their current homes. To compound the problem, because dementia attacks the memory capacities, these adults may not remember their current address or even their names. Identification obviously then becomes one of the biggest obstacles of recovery. Worse yet, they may wander into the vicinity of a body of water.

In one success story from California, an alert from a mechanic at his place of business saved a 73-year-old elderly woman. The lady suffering from Alzheimer’s had gone missing the evening before and was found about five miles from her home. In this case, ACIM sent nearly 1,200 telephone alerts to the area to aid the search.

ACIM will also come to the aid of people who have become disabled, including people who have been beaten, are unconscious or who are suffering from memory loss. There may be other circumstances where A Child is Missing will become involved so if you think you need assistance, just pick up the telephone.

In any case, ACIM will come to the aid if requested by law enforcement. It’s important to remember that A Child is Missing is not an investigative service. Instead, it works with law enforcement to escalate awareness through its program alerts. The program alerts act as direct line Amber alerts.Name logo

We would all agree, no one should go missing. While no one wants to hear of a missing child, no one wants to get the call that their parents or grandparents have also gone missing. In many ways, an elderly person with diminished mental capacities is no different than a child. They are equally as vulnerable. They are equally as innocent. They are equally as scared. They can be equally as lost.

A Child is Missing makes no distinction between innocent victims. If you’re missing, we want you found!

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