What is the Virginia State Clearinghouse on Missing Children?
The Clearinghouse operates as Virginia’s center for missing children administered through the Virginia Department of State Police. The clearinghouse is linked to all Virginia law enforcement agencies through the Virginia Criminal Information Network, the FBI, all U.S. police agencies through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), and all children's clearinghouses through computer hookups with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
When was the Virginia Clearinghouse Formed?
By act of the Virginia General Assembly on July 1, 1983. The act provides for a state clearinghouse to assist in the implementation of federal and state laws relating to missing children, and the inclusion of programs to coordinate efforts between local, state and federal agencies in recovering missing children and promoting community awareness of the issue.
Virginia State Clearinghouse on Missing Children
Department of State Police
Virginia Missing Children Clearinghouse
P. O. Box 27472, Richmond, VA 23261
Toll Free: 1-800-822-4453
After Hours: (804) 674-2026
Fax: (804) 674-2105
Who are Missing Children?
"Missing children" are those who, for whatever reason, are not in their usual abode and whose parents or caretakers are unaware of their whereabouts.
They include children who:
- are abducted by a stranger or acquaintance
- are abducted by a parent or relative due to custody disputes
- run away
- become lost
- have been discarded by their lawful custodian or parent
While the majority of children who become "missing" are eventually recovered or return home, they may be gone for significant periods of time. Some children are found dead, and some are never recovered at all. Coordination and cooperation between law enforcement, the missing children's clearinghouse, and all involved agencies can shorten the time a child is away from his/her proper custodian or family, thereby lessening chances of exposure to dangerous situations.
Stranger abductions, while accounting for the least amount of missing children, have the most "grim" outlook for recovery, especially if the child is not located within 48 hours. Immediate and intensive location efforts are necessary.
Children abducted by non-custodial parent live the life of victims of both emotional and sometimes physical abuse. Life is frequently "on the run," and they are uprooted from familiar schools, friends and often moved to other states, where their names may be changed to avoid detection. They are frequently traumatized not only emotionally but also by physical abuse from a desperate absconding parent.
Runaways comprise the largest category of missing children. The manpower and resources needed to track them, as well as the perception that they will eventually return to their families by themselves, have made them a difficult enforcement problem. Unfortunately, while away, they are likely to be exposed to adverse and exploitive influences, including drugs and prostitution. Often they enter criminal statistics through these activities or others.
What should I do if I suspect a possible missing child or exploitation in my neighborhood?
- Do not confront the people yourself.
- Contact the Missing Children Clearinghouse by telephone or e-mail.
- Write down as much information as possible relating the family’s name, the names of the children, the length of time the family has been living in the neighborhood.
- Write down the person’s license plate number and the state of registration.
What should I do if I suspect a person on an Internet chat room is attempting to entice a child away from their home?
- Obtain as much information as possible on the person who is attempting to entice the child, including the person’s e-mail address.
- Obtain any information on meeting places.
- Document the time of day and in which chat room the conversation was occurring.
- If possible, determine which Internet provider controls the chat room.
- Contact local law enforcement authorities or the Virginia State Police office in your area. See chart below.
What should I do if I suspect a person is sending sexually explicit photographs involving children or discover an Internet web site containing sexually explicit photographs of children?
- Record the Internet web site address.
- Record the person’s e-mail address that is sending the materials.
- Contact local law enforcement authorities or the Virginia State Police office in your area. See map below.
|Division 1 Richmond
What should I do if I suspect a future problem with a family-related abduction?
- Make sure your custody order specifies with whom the child is to reside at specific times and restricts removal from the state without prior consent from the judge.
- Flag the child's passport, or ask passport control not to issue one if requested.
- Notify schools, day care centers and baby sitters of custody orders. Give copies to such caretakers and ask to be alerted if the non-custodial parent makes an unscheduled visit to the facility.
- File a certified copy of your custody decree in the non-custodial parent's home county (state). This notifies the court in that county (state) that a valid decree has already been issued and must be honored. Also consider filing a copy with counties in which the non-custodial parent has close friends or relatives.
- Keep lists of information: addresses, phone numbers, social security number, passport number, and birthdays of all relatives and friends of the non-custodial parent.
- Keep current photos of your child updated every four months. Know their current weight and height.
- Keep all information in two separate and secure places.
- Teach your child how to use the phone to call your home or office. Make sure they know their full name, address and phone number (including area code).
- Practice making collect calls, tell your child you will always accept collect calls and to call immediately should anything unusual happen, or if anyone tells the child that you are dead or don't love them anymore.
- Make sure your child knows not to accept rides from strangers and to be alert against a stranger who suggests they go off alone together for any reason, for example, to find a lost puppy, etc.
- Tell your child to let you know immediately if another adult suggests keeping secrets from you.
- Never leave your child alone in the car, even for a minute.