Bush schedules missing children forum
President to parents: 'Talk to your children'
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 amid the widely reported abductions and killings of several children, including 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 despicable violence," Bush said.
The Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) 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 is to host 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.
Handbook now online
Bush on Tuesday also announced the release of a new guidebook, "Personal Safety for Children: A Guide for Parents." The book is available in English and Spanish on the Web at www.missingkids.com. (Click here)
"One of the most important things that a mom or dad can do," Bush said on Tuesday, "is talk to your children, very specifically, and rehearse what they can say or do if they feel threatened. ... For example, unfamiliar adults usually will not ask them for directions or help. Such a request might be a trick."
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.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said there are some 3,000 to 5,000 non-family abductions reported to police annually. Most of those, NCMEC said, are short-term sexually motivated cases. Some 200 to 300 of those -- or 6 percent -- make up the most serious cases, in which a child is killed, ransomed or taken with an intention of keeping the kid.
But the center's president and CEO, Ernie Allen, said his organization's personnel believe the numbers are decreasing. They project that there will be about 100 of these cases this year, with nearly one-half resulting in the deaths of the children involved.
The White House said about 200,000 children are abducted annually by family members seeking to interfere with a parent's custodial rights. Ninety-eight percent of children return from these abductions, the White House said, noting that this figure still leaves too many children who do not come back.
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