So I added a runaway case from the NCMEC to Charley today and then had to pull it down within about five minutes.
The girl was missing from Cleveland, Ohio. Curiously, however, she wasn’t listed on either the Cleveland missing persons page or the Cuyahoga County missing persons page.
I began to smell a rat, checked Facebook, and found what I’m pretty sure is the girl’s Facebook page — an active one. Last posting was two days ago. If it is her, she’s going by a nickname for her legal name, and she’s put on a lot of weight and changed her hair significantly. But the Facebook girl’s nose looked exactly the same, the page said she lives in Cleveland, and the NCMEC poster noted that she may use the same nickname the Facebook page was under.
I called up the NCMEC hotline number (which I call often enough to have it in my cell phone contacts), to tell them about the active Facebook page. They told me she had been recovered already.
SO WHY IS SHE STILL LISTED AS A MISSING CHILD ON THEIR SITE?
I understand that no database is perfect — certainly mine isn’t — but this kind of thing really should not happen. It wasn’t even that the NCMEC didn’t realize she wasn’t missing anymore; they did know. But they forgot to pull her poster.
Their right hand doesn’t know what their left is doing. If I hadn’t seen that girl’s Facebook page — and, being as it’s under her nickname, it’s not super obvious — and decided to call it in, who knows how much longer she would have been erroneously listed as missing.
This kind of stuff is more than just annoying to people like me, it can cause a lot of trouble for the person in question. Suppose this young lady decides to apply for colleges or jobs or something, and gets rejected because people Google her name and think she’s a missing child?
The NCMEC is a private organization, but it is funded largely by grants from the U.S. Department of Justice, and it has a budget in the millions. It is also the most famous missing children’s nonprofit in the country. This kind of carelessness from them is unacceptable.