New York — Television can help find missing children. As a direct result of the Oct. 10, 1983, broadcast of Adam, the true story of the abduction and murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh from a Florida shopping mall , 13 missing children were recovered. At the conclusion of the broadcast, the names and photographs of 55 missing children were aired and a toll-free hot-line number was flashed on the screen.
Twelve of those children are now at home (one is again missing, as a result, it is thought, of custody disagreement). On April 30 (NBC, 9-11 p.m.) the program will be rebroadcast and the names and photographs of 49 additional missing children will be given.
As a result of the public reaction to the initial airing of ''Adam'' (more than 10,000 calls to the hot line), Congress has passed the Missing Children's Act, which makes it easier for parents of missing children to obtain help in locating a child.
In addition, NBC News has been broadcasting a daily ''Child Search'' segment, which is being picked up by local NBC stations throughout the country and has already resulted in three children being returned to their rightful guardians.
Meanwhile, a press conference was held here to update the status of further missing-children legislation. Present were the father and mother of Adam, John and Reve Walsh, together with their one-year-old daughter and ''Hill Street Blues'' star Daniel J. Travanti (who portrays Mr. Walsh in the film and who has himself become actively involved in missing-child activities). They announced that a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will be opened in Washington (scheduled for May 25), only if another missing-children's bill, now pending in Congress, is funded with the $10 million required.