Caption: ASIS International 2013 President Geoffrey Craighead, CPP, signs the Memorandum of Understanding with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing each year and the number of reported cases of child sexual exploitation is increasing, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Researchers have found that when children are abducted, time is of the essence. “ASIS members are, in many cases, first responders in child abduction cases,” observes ASIS President Geoffrey T. Craighead, CPP. “As a community of security practitioners, many of whom represent private sector organizations, our members collectively have the potential to play a critical role in protecting children from all forms of abduction and sexual exploitation.”
Recognizing the potential for a collaborative partnership between private sector security and law enforcement, Craighead and NCMEC CEO John Ryan signed a Memorandum of Understanding between their two organizations on Thursday, January 17, at the ASIS Annual Volunteer Leadership Conference, held at the Ritz Carlton in Arlington, Virginia. The primary goal of the new partnership is to support public safety agencies around the world in their efforts to protect children from victimization.
ASIS International, which began in 1955, is a not-for-profit organization with approximately 38,000 members. Its members are security professionals in all sectors of business and government. It disseminates information and educational materials to enhance security knowledge, practice, and performance.
Created in 1984, NCMEC is a private, (501)(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to serve as the nation’s resource on the issues of missing and sexually exploited children. The organization provides information and resources to law enforcement, parents, and children, including child victims, as well as other professionals.
ASIS, led by its Law Enforcement Liaison Council (LELC), and NCMEC will collaborate to provide private sector security management professionals with information, risk assessment tools, and training needed to protect children. Resources will be developed for specific business sectors such as retail, cultural properties, education, and entertainment.
Craighead also noted the vital role that ASIS members and their employers play in assuring that companies avoid hiring anyone who may use corporate assets and reputation to victimize children. “By working in partnership to raise awareness, to inform, and to educate, our organizations together can impact the safety and security of our children,” he said.
Brian Reich, LELC chair, notes, “As security professionals we deal with risk. If you look at the statistics, they say that one in five girls and one in 10 boys will be victims of child exploitation before they are 18 in the United States alone; there are nearly 58,000 annual stranger abductions; and a family abduction occurs every three minutes. So, the risk there is obvious. The MOU signed between ASIS and NCMEC will enable security practitioners to develop best practices to mitigate and respond to those risks. Once again, ASIS has taken an affirmative step forward to lead the charge and contribute to positive change in our industry. But most importantly, this MOU will help make children safer.”
Photograph by Steven Parke