When Ssamali Joy Kwatia’s father Mark last saw his daughter in early 2013, she was 4 years old. She already loved swimming and gymnastics, and was ready to take on soccer. Mark says she asked him often if she could play. More than a year later, he does not know where his daughter is or if she has had the chance to give soccer a try.
Ssamali was last seen on March 31, 2013 with her mother, Joan Kiyenje. A felony warrant for child abduction was issued for Joan on April 11, 2013.
When they were last seen Joan was returning a rental car to Lake Bluff, Ill. Neither the mother or daughter has been heard from since.
Mark says his daughter enjoyed sharing stories about what happened at school and church. Her favorite foods are macaroni and cheese, and “believe it or not,” says Mark, avocado and pasta.
Ssamali is now 5 years old. She is a black female with brown eyes and black hair. When she was last seen she was 3 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed 40 pounds.
Do you have any information about where Ssamali Kwatia may be? Call us at 1-800-THE-LOST. View and share Ssamali’s poster here.
Today we’re launching a new Facebook page and need your help spreading the word. Like our newest page, “Help ID Me,” and share it with your friends!
Help ID Me is a page dedicated to finding the names of unknown children. These children — often found deceased without any information that can tell law enforcement who they were — deserve to have their names back. We have a caseload of approximately 650 unidentified persons and are working to find an identity for each and every one.
To help with this identification process we have uploaded images and information associated with each case in photo albums, categorized by state. We will also highlight one case a month on the page. Read this month’s story about a successful identification.
Play a part in this goal by liking and sharing the Help ID Me page.
You never know who might recognize a missing child’s photo. This is why we share photos with as many people as possible, but there is only so much we can do. We need your help. Become a poster partner at www.missingkids.com to start receiving photos via email of children missing in your area.
Here are a few things to know before becoming a poster partner.
Sign up for as many regions as you want.
Some people want to know about as many missing children as they can. Some only want to know about children missing near them. The poster partner program has been seperated into six regions, so either way you can help. You can sign up to receive posters from your region, a few regions or all six.
Posters must remain in their original format.
We strongly encourage people to print and share posters, however the posters cannot be altered or edited. Posters must remain in their original format with NCMEC’s name, logo and toll-free number.
Display posters in your community.
Some great places to display posters are coffee shops, community centers and other locations members of your community frequent. But remember, ask permission before displaying a poster.
Follow up if a child is recovered.
When a child is recovered, they deserve privacy as they reunify with their family. We try to respect that privacy by halting the distribution of their poster. If you forward a missing child’s poster to an email list, please notify that same list of the child’s recovery. If you’ve displayed printed posters in public places, remove those posters to the best of your ability.
Our CyberTipline receives thousands of reports every week of suspected child sexual abuse images online. We in turn notify Electronic Service Providers of the suspected child sexual abuse images hosted on their services.
In 2013 the average removal time of these images decreased 54.8 percent to 1.99 days. Learn more about the CyberTipline at www.missingkids.com/cybertipline.
It is our hope at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® that you will never need to know what it is like to have a missing child. However, we also know there is no such thing as too much preparation. Here are some first steps you should take if your child goes missing. For a more comprehensive checklist download our Missing-Child, Emergency-Response, Quick-Reference Guide for Families.
Lyn Thompson is a co-founder of Truckers Against Trafficking. With more than 30 years as a public relations professional, she uses her speaking, writing and public relations skills to help TAT fulfill its mission and goals.
No one can fight child sex trafficking alone. Effective solutions require multiple efforts along multiple fronts to identify and recover victims and bring offenders to justice.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reports that one out of every seven endangered runaways in 2013 was a likely child sex trafficking victim. These child victims often end up travelling and being victimized along the highways of America.
This is why Truckers Against Trafficking, a nonprofit organization, is joining forces with NCMEC to get posters of missing children at high risk for sex trafficking to as many truckers and truck stop operators as possible.
TAT and NCMEC have created the new High-Risk Child Poster Initiative where truckers can sign up for an email Listerv where they will receive geolocated posters of missing children at high risk for child sex trafficking. As of now, this Listserv is only available to truckers and anti-trafficking organizations conducting street outreach and services for survivors of sex trafficking.
Since TAT began, calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center from truckers have increased from just three calls in 2008 to 787 calls between 2009 and 2013.
TAT started in 2009 to fight human trafficking and, in particular, child sex trafficking. The more than 9 million members of the trucking industry are the eyes and ears of America’s highways, and now tens of thousands of them are educated and equipped to spot and report human trafficking wherever and whenever they see it.
TAT provides education for members of the trucking industry through videos and equips truckers with wallet cards, brochures and other materials. Additionally, TAT works to empower and mobilize the trucking industry. They help build coalitions between members of state and local law enforcement and general managers of travel plazas and truck stops to help them work more effectively together to fight human trafficking.
TAT also works with law enforcement and state transportation agencies to provide TAT training and materials to law enforcement. These agencies interact with truckers at every possible trucking venue in a state, from weigh stations and rest areas to truck stops and CDL renewal locations.
"The TAT material is well done. It doesn’t take a lot of time to train staff, and the information is well put together,” said Chief David Lorenzen of the Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement at the Iowa Department of Transportation. “We fully embrace the efforts of TAT and will continue to work with them to get the information out to all professional drivers. Working together we can make a difference and curb this criminal activity."
TAT is proud to work with NCMEC to bring posters of these high risk children to the attention of truckers who travel the country and who may see these children and report a tip that could lead to their recovery.
If you are a member of the trucking or transportation industry or an organization that works with survivors of sex trafficking email Melissa Snow, NCMEC’s Child Sex Trafficking Program Specialist at email@example.com to receive more information about High-Risk Child Poster Initiative.
Garry Henning’s grandson went missing in 2006 and was found deceased. Since then, Garry has volunteered for Team HOPE. Read about his experience in our ongoing series from volunteers with Team HOPE, a peer support program for families with missing or sexually exploited children.
Quadrevion Henning was my grandson — the only son of my son Quentin. Quadrevion, who we called Dre, was always a smart kid. He was bright for his age.
Dre had the biggest smile and a loving personality. I wish that everyone would have known him. They would have loved him as much as we did.
My son Quentin was in the Army and because of that he and Dre lived in Japan for a while. Usually when Quentin deployed, Dre lived with us.
When Dre came back to live with us we placed him in military school. He said he wanted to be like his dad, his papa, his uncle, his aunties — we all had served our country. He loved the school, after all where could you go and shout at other students and not get in trouble?
Dre was so proud of the school military awards he received. Two were for perfect attendance. Sometimes he would hold the certificates up and say with that shy smile, “Papa, did you and granny ever get one of these?” I was lucky if I went an entire month without missing.
The day Dre and his friend Purvis went missing was the worst day of our lives. The 27-day nightmare did not feel real. There was an overwhelming sense of helplessness, a feeling that this could not be happening. Our baby should have been home with us, with his granny, in his own bed, raiding the refrigerator, making noise with his cousin Eric.
Dre and Purvis’ bodies were found in a pond on April 15, 2006 near where they were last playing basketball.
It has been seven years since Dre’s death and sometimes I still see my wife sitting at the window watching for his school bus as she always did. I sit next to her and whisper to her, “Honey the school bus won’t stop in front of our house again.”
But she still sits there for a little while longer.
Our Dre lost his life trying to save his drowning friend. People say he was a hero. We say he was just being Dre.
When Dre went missing, our home was turned upside down. So many people were there, all times of the day and night. We had no private time for ourselves.
Church groups held prayer services in front of our home. Politicians gave press conferences on our lawn. Police, the FBI and sheriff’s deputies were in and out of the house. When we left our home, news reporters pushed microphones in our faces. There was so much madness.
We kept telling ourselves that they were just trying to help, but we needed someone with a level head.
As I look back, there are things I remember and some I don’t. But I do remember the call from Team HOPE member Colleen as if it was yesterday. That call from Team HOPE was as if an angel had been sent.
We were skeptical at first but Colleen made us feel safe. She understood our plight, but how could this be? So many had been calling and coming by. However she was different. She talked with understanding, talked as if she was in our shoes.
She reminded me to take care of myself, to tell the truth no matter what and to take some time for family. I can’t remember how many times she talked to me. But I do remember at times I would come home and ask, “Had that lady called?” She was my safety net. I needed to hear a voice of reason, not a voice trying to push me in one direction or another.
After this experience with Team HOPE, I also became a volunteer. When I went to my first Team HOPE training I did not know what to expect, but I was embraced with open arms. This was a very special group.
When it came time for me to tell Dre’s story, tears flowed, but this time they were tears of inclusion. The room with strangers not only heard the story, they got it. I knew then I wanted to be part of this. Team Hope became and still is my therapy. Even years later, I consider myself a referral, in need of my Team Hope family.
If your life has been touched by the heartbreak of having a missing or exploited child and you feel you need support contact Team HOPE at 1-866-305-HOPE.
Teenagers are online. They are sharing photos, updates and information. Most parents know this, and many are taking the necessary steps to monitor what their children are doing online and who they are talking to.
But some parents don’t think of cellphones when they think about their children’s online activity. Cellphones are more than a means to make a phone call. These days, there is very little a computer can do that a cellphone can’t.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 95 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 are on the Internet. But these teenagers aren’t just going online with laptops or desktops. Seventy-four percent have access on a mobile basis, and 25 percent mostly access the Internet on cellphones.
These teens have their cellphones on them at all times, and parents can’t always be looking over their shoulders to see what they are doing. That is why having frequent conversations with teens is so important.
The following tips come from our NetSmartz Workshop, an Internet safety program with resources for parents, children and educators.
Get more Internet safety resources, including tips, videos and games, at the NetSmartz Workshop.
February is Black History Month. We are focusing our blog this month on issues related to the African American community, including child sex trafficking in Washington, D.C., a city with a 50 percent African-American population.
Ari Redbord is the Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia serves as both the local and federal prosecutor for the nation’s capital. On the local side, prosecutions extend from misdemeanor drug possession cases to murders. On the federal side, prosecutions extend from child pornography to terrorism.
In May 2011, Robert Brathwaite, a 35-year-old trafficker also known as “Smoke,” first encountered his victim, a 14-year-old runaway. The child, who had run away from home in another state, was living in an apartment in Washington, D.C. Braithwaite and a companion transported the victim to various places in Washington, D.C. and Maryland for purposes of sex.
As a prosecutor at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, I have had the ability to focus on crimes involving child exploitation. Through that lens I have seen some of the darkest corners of our city and of the human spirit. This is perhaps most true in cases involving the trafficking of minors. Traffickers feed off of the insecurities and a lack of the most basic human needs – food, shelter and love – to prey on our community’s most vulnerable victims.
Since its inception in 2004, the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force has been recognized by the Department of Justice as one of the most active, aggressive and productive human trafficking task forces in the nation. It is a national model for investigating and prosecuting cases of domestic sex trafficking involving the commercial exploitation of children.
The D.C. Task Force has become a national leader in organizing a collaborative effort to strengthen criminal investigations and prosecutions of human traffickers with a victim-centered approach. The D.C. Task Force, one of the largest anti-human trafficking organizations in the world, has a membership of over 20 government agencies and 35 non-governmental organizations.
One of those members is the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. On May 31, 2011, the victim being trafficked by Robert Brathwaite was picked up by astute D.C. Metropolitan Police officers for truancy when they identified the victim as too young to be walking the streets late at night. An investigation led police to Brathwaite, who was located close to where the child was. Brathwaite was arrested and plead guilty to federal charges of sex trafficking of children, transportation of a minor for the purpose of prostitution and possession of a firearm.
This is just one example of the steps our members take to protect these child victims and get those exploiting them off the streets.
As Coordinator of the D.C. Task Force, it is my job to bring together law enforcement and non-governmental entities to combat this scourge and serve victims of human trafficking.
Organizations like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children shine a light on the danger to these vulnerable victims. Specifically, NCMEC is rightfully focused on the most vulnerable victims – those relegated to foster care, runaway and throwaway youth.
Learn more about the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force, their members and the work they do to keep children safe on their website.