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White House to hold summit on children

Samantha Runnion, 5, was kidnapped and brutally killed last month.
Samantha Runnion, 5, was kidnapped and brutally killed last month.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush announced plans Tuesday for a White House summit next month on missing, exploited and runaway children.

"The kidnapping or murder of a child is every parent's worst nightmare," Bush said in a Rose Garden ceremony.

The announcement comes in the wake of a rash of abductions and killings of children, including the recent death of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion.

"Our nation has come to know the names and faces of too many wonderful children, because they've been the victims of dispicable violence," Bush said.

The Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also plan to take part in the September 24 summit.

The meeting is designed to raise public awareness of the issue and bring together those who can contribute to discussions on the matter, the White House said on Monday.

Bush will play host at the all-day meeting, which is expected to be held on the George Washington University campus in Washington.

Cabinet secretaries, members of law enforcement, federal, state and local government officials, corporate leaders, citizen experts, and victims' parents are among those expected to participate.

Bush also announced the release of a new guidebook, "Personal Safety for Children: A Guide for Parents." The book will also be available in English and Spanish on the Web at (Click here)

The conference will cover such topics as missing and exploited children, runaway and homeless youth, international child abduction, sex trafficking of children, child pornography, Internet safety, and corporate and community involvement in preventing problems.

According to the White House, more than 58,000 children in the United States are abducted by non-relatives each year.

In addition, 200,000 children are abducted by family members seeking to interfere with a parent's custodial rights, the White House said.

Ninety-eight percent of children return from these abductions, the White House said, noting that still leaves too many children who do not come back.

Of the kidnappings by strangers, 40 percent of children are killed, according to the White House.




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