We receive calls for service regarding runaway children frequently. These types of calls put us on high alert because the safety of our children in Lexington County is a top priority. For whatever reason a child chooses to run away, whether it be out of fear, confusion or rebellion, our goal is to utilize our resources to find them swiftly. With the help of community partners and the public, we are able to close many more cases.
According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), there is no typical runaway. But some of these factors often contribute to an increased risk of youth running away: alcohol/drug use, mental illness, suicidal, medical conditions, involvement in gangs or child sex trafficking.
More than half of runaways reported are between 16-17 years old. According to the FBI, almost half a million children under 18 went missing last year in the U.S. In Lexington County alone, we had over 200 reported cases of runaways in 2018.
How can you help? The ADAM program (Automated Delivery of Alerts on Missing Children) is a national service you can sign up for. Participants will receive geo-targeted alerts from ADAM using specific NCMEC reports. The more people who are informed and aware, the more children who are able to be recovered.
If you think you have seen a missing child, call your local law enforcement department or the NCMEC hotline: 1-800-843-5678. If you suspect child sexual exploitation, please submit a tip: www.cybertip.org.