Protecting children through partnership and technology

How Thomson Reuters CLEAR supports the mission of protecting children

Every child deserves a safe childhood. Yet each year, countless children around the world go missing or are put in dangerous and vulnerable situations. “There is no corner of the world not touched by these issues. We remain committed to finding new and better ways to reach the people who need us most,” says Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Founded in 1984, NCMEC is the nation’s largest and most influential child protection organization, dedicated to finding missing kids, stopping child sexual exploitation, and preventing crimes against children. Fulfilling that mission requires a partnership among stakeholders across society. “Protecting children is everyone’s responsibility. It requires both the public and private sector working together, bringing their expertise, tools, and resources to make a difference,” DeLaune says.

Surfacing the right information

The exploitation of children is at unprecedented levels, driven in part by social media and technology — at the same time, they play an essential role in the solution. Through online data and analysis, NCMEC is able to provide critical information, identify trends, and create programs to protect kids worldwide. 

“We need technology that enables us to connect the dots, target cases where there is the most urgent risk to children, and act on them quickly,” DeLaune says. “We have so much data coming in; more than human beings can sift through to surface the right information. It’s the proverbial needle in a haystack — but in this haystack, the needles we are searching for are children in need of assistance.” 

DeLaune says the 15-year partnership with Thomson Reuters has been instrumental in that effort. “The people at Thomson Reuters care as much about kids as we do. They’ve provided us with tools, like CLEAR, that help us do our job faster and get the right information out to law enforcement and the public. That’s been a game changer.”

Focusing investigations

NCMEC analysts use CLEAR on a daily basis to support missing and exploited child investigations, according to Angela Aufmuth, Executive Director of Analytical Programs at NCMEC. 

“When a report on a missing or exploited child comes into the Center, time is of the essence. We need to analyze data rapidly,” Aufmuth says. “With CLEAR, we’re able to access data from multiple sources, quickly putting together pieces of the puzzle. This enables us to identify possible locations and persons of interest and get that information out to law enforcement agencies so they can perform their investigations in the field.”

Rich resources

Whether working on a missing child case, a case of suspected sex trafficking, a noncompliant sex offender, or a child abduction, having access to public records information is absolutely critical, Aufmuth says. CLEAR offers access to a variety of information sources, enabling analysts to make critical connections.

“CLEAR has given us the ability to access different types of data very quickly,” Aufmuth says, pointing to data on deaths as an example. “When conducting noncompliant sex offender operations, law enforcement will give us a large amount of information. We’re able to batch that data against the resources in CLEAR, quickly identifying individuals who are deceased. This enables law enforcement to conduct investigations in more focused and efficient manner.”

Given the high stakes in the operations NCMEC supports, trusting the data is crucial. “With CLEAR, we have complete confidence in the quality and accuracy of the data,” Aufmuth says.

A commitment to families

For everyone at NCMEC, it all comes down to the children and their families undergoing unspeakable stress.

“Having access to tools like CLEAR is absolutely essential to our work. If we did not have access to the data and analysis they provide, we would not be able to support the families we serve and bring their children home,” Aufmuth explains, noting that CLEAR was a contributing factor in the recovery of at least 50 missing children in the past five years.

“NCMEC is a lifeline for families searching for a child or helping them rebuild their life after an exploitation issue,” DeLaune says. “They are grateful for anyone who can enhance our ability to serve them. The families are counting on us — and we count on technology partners like Thomson Reuters.”

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