Missing Children Statistics:
At A Glance
Missing children statistics are helpful for everyone - parent, educator, researcher, advocate.... The numbers help us understand the battle we are fighting. As a parent, these numbers gave me a clear direction on which safety tips were the most important for my family.
For tips on how to use these statistics, read this article about how
child abduction statistics can help parents
teach their children.
United States of America
These missing children statistics come from the U.S. Department of Justice. Any person under the age of 18 is considered a child.
- Kidnapping statistics in America estimate that over 800,000 kids are reported missing every year. That’s an average of over 2,000 missing kids every day.
- Most kidnapped kids are abducted by someone they know.
- Every year, more than 200,000 kids are abducted by a family member (most are parental kidnapping).
- Over 58,000 kids are abducted by someone they know who is not part of their family (friend, neighbor, acquaintance, etc). This type of abduction is usually sexually motivated.
- Murder is rare.
- 115 children fall victim to stereotypical kidnappings – the most troubling kind. They are abducted by total strangers, taken for keeps, held for ransom, or murdered.
- Over 76% of kidnapped children who are killed are murdered within 3 hours of the abduction.
- There are more runaway children than abducted children.
- More than 32% of missing kids are kidnapped. The rest are runaways, throwaways (kicked out), or got lost.
The missing children statistics for Canada come from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Again, children are defined to be anyone under the age of 18 years.
- Over 50,000 children are reported missing every year in Canada.
- 83% of missing children are ages 14 to 17 years old.
- Most kidnapped kids are taken by their parents.
- 72% of children abducted by parents are under the age of 12.
- One third of abducted children are kidnapped by “strangers” (or rather, people who were not related to the child... like friends, acquaintances, neighbors, etc).
- Of the children who were kidnapped by strangers, 58% of them were abducted from their homes.
- Nearly 36,000 runaway children are reported every year. That’s about 3 out of every 4 missing children.
- There are more missing girls than boys.
- About 1 in 6 missing children are found because someone recognized their picture.
Surprisingly, missing children statistics from the UK are hard to find.
Why? Simply because reports made by law enforcement, child services, and other organizations are recorded differently to serve the needs of their group.
Another major problem is that there isn’t a set definition of “child”. Unofficially, people consider anyone under the age of 18 to be a child. But since there is no set law, kids around the age of 16 or 17 often feel independent… and act that way… legally.
Thus, the question of “how many missing children are there in the UK?” becomes a tricky one to answer.
But the country is working to change that. The Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre (CEOP) wrote a fantastic article about the missing children dilemma in the United Kingdom. They’ve summarized the problem and the statistics in the most readable, comprehensive format that I’ve found. You can
find their synopsis of the numbers on pages 21-23.
It’s definitely worth the read.
In the mean time, here are the best missing children statistics I could find elsewhere. I use the term “child” loosely in these statistics… as do the researchers.
MISSING CHILD STATISTICS FROM: Newiss and Fairbrother, Child Abduction: Understanding Police Recorded Crime Statistics, 2004
- 52% of missing young people are boys.
- Half of all reported kidnappings were attempted and unsuccessful.
- Of all the abduction reports -successful and unsuccessful - 23% involved parental kidnapping and 56% involved stranger kidnapping.
- About 22% of successfully kidnapped kids were abducted by people they knew who were not related to them (friends, neighbors, acquaintances, etc).
- Attempted stranger kidnappings are the most reported type of abduction.
- Only 9% of stranger abduction attempts were successful.
- A minimum of 6% of child abductions are reported to have a sexual purpose (although researchers believe the actual number is higher)
MISSING CHILD STATISTICS FROM: Safe on the Streets Research Team, Still Running, 1999.
- There are about 100,000 runaway children under the age of 16 in the UK.
MISSING CHILD STATISTICS FROM: Rees and Lee, Still Running II: Findings from the Second National Survey of Young Runaways, 2005.
- Kids are 3 times more likely to runaway when living in a care home than those who are living at home with their families. Children in step-parent homes are also more likely to become runaway children.
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