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Kidnapping Statistics In America - Guest Article written by Allen Schowengerd. Allen is a sports, video game, and home and family safety enthusiast. He writes for YourLocalSecurity.
When you take a cursory look at the overall statistics, they can be alarming. Each year over 800,000 children under the age of 18 are reported missing. That is one child every 40 seconds. A closer look gives a more accurate view of what these numbers really mean.
Certainly, missing children are a huge concern, but the continuing myths surrounding the problem aren’t doing anything to help it. Here are 5 common myths regarding missing and abducted children, and what the actual numbers show.
Of the 800,000 children reported as missing or abducted each year, about 69,000 fall into the “abducted” category. Over 56,500 of these children (82%) were abducted by a family member. The 12,000 remaining cases are described as “non-family abductions”, and of these, 37% are said to involve a stranger.
A closer look at all of these numbers ultimately reveals that of the 800,000 missing children reported each year, about 4,440 are believed to have strangers involved. While the number is a concern, it is actually just one-half of one percent (.05%) of all missing children cases. Clearly, most missing children are not abducted by strangers, but by someone they know.
The numbers do not support this myth. A 2012 Reuters article says advancements in technology have helped boost the number of recovered missing children to 99%. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that only 115 children annually are the victims of a “stereotypical” kidnapping—abducted by a stranger and taken at least 50 miles from their home—and of this much smaller number about 57% come home alive.
Most reports actually show adolescents are most likely to go missing. An FBI report says that 2/3rds of all missing children reports involved 15, 16 and 17 year olds. Statistics also show that 11 year old girls are a more likely target of abduction, in-part, because they may be exerting their independence, and because parents may begin to get a little more relaxed in watching over them.
Parents should always be cautious, but believing most abductions involve young children can be deceiving.
Quite the contrary. Law enforcement believes photographs are the most important tool in finding a missing child. In fact, pictures have been directly linked to the recovery of 1 in every 6 missing child cases. It is such an important tool that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children suggest new color photographs be taken of children every 6 months.
Since the statistics show most child abduction cases involve someone the child already knows, this lesson really isn’t going to provide much help. It may be better to teach a child that if they ever become lost to find an elderly couple or a woman with small children for help. For a lost child in a crowd, an adult may be his or her biggest help.
When you break down the statistics, you begin to understand that molesters, kidnappers, and baby thieves are not lurking around every corner. The numbers do not give credence to these myths surrounding missing children.
A bigger concern is how many of these children go missing through a disenfranchised parent or relative. As we become aware of the real issues, and the magnitude of them, we can work on solutions based on facts, not fear.
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