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Helpful Information: NCMEC's Missing Child Poster

NCMEC's most visible resource is its poster which features a photograph of the missing child and basic information regarding the child. In addition to featuring posters on NCMEC's main website, NCMEC works closely with approximately 270 corporate photo partners who disseminate photos of missing children to millions of homes and businesses across the U.S. every day. Additionally, NCMEC’s communications department coordinates with numerous media outlet contacts across the country to feature missing child posters.

Missing Child Poster Example

Basic requirements of poster for children missing from state or county care:

NCMEC's poster is a valuable tool that can be utilized if the following two basic requirements have been met:

  1. Child should have an entry in the National Crime Information Center Database;
  2. If you are a social services agency representative reporting a child missing from state or county care, and you wish NCMEC to produce a missing poster to help recover the missing child, you may submit photographs of the child. By submitting photographs of the missing child, you acknowledge that the photographs are of the missing child and NCMEC is permitted to publish and distribute the photographs and related information of the missing child by any format used by NCMEC (print, video, on-line, etc.) to help recover the missing child. You also understand that NCMEC may use the photographs for image enhancement and age-progression, when appropriate, and you will provide NCMEC with updated or corrected information about the missing child’s appearance if it becomes available. [Note: Some agencies already have a formal agreement signed with NCMEC to cover this purpose, including: the Florida Department of Children and Families, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Check with your state or email CMFC@ncmec.org if you have any questions.]   

Additionally, it is recommended that there be an accurate and current description of the child as well as a good photograph of the child.

Tips for a good quality photograph

  • Turn off all filter effects.
  • Use a neutral background.
  • Take a direct, frontal shot of the child at a good distance.
  • If the child is shorter than you, get down to their level.
  • Avoid taking the child’s portrait in direct sunlight.
  • Nothing should obstruct the child’s face.
  • Hair out of the child’s face, no hats, earbuds, silly faces.
  • Avoid using self-portraits with phones.
  • Set the camera or smartphone to take the highest resolution photo.
  • Keep all settings to automatic.
  • Turn on the flash.
  • If you do not have a flash on your camera or phone, try to take the portrait in an area with neutral light.
  • Keep your camera lens clean.

Photograph at recovery

At the time the missing child is located, please remember to take another photograph of the child.  This photograph can be used in the event the child goes missing again.

Documentation of marks and tattoos

It is also important to record information about any tattoos as they can help identify a particular child and track possible child sex trafficking victimization or other endangerments.


Copyright © 2015 National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. All rights reserved.

This Web site is funded, in part, through a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this Web site (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).

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