Child abduction is one of the greatest fears of any parent. When trying to figure out the best way to go about making sure your family is as safe as possible, it’s only natural to do research to find out pertinent information, like how many kids are abducted each year. The more real-world data you have access to, the easier it is to make an accurate plan that you and your family can work towards to ensure that your child isn’t targeted by a child abductor.
Per year, on average there are around 800,000 children reported missing in the United States, and in the neighborhood of 8 million children are reported missing yearly around the world. In the vast majority of cases children are returned home, about 99% of the time, and most of the time this happens very quickly. It can, however, be a long drawn out ordeal taking months or even years.
Now, while these numbers do look big and scary that doesn’t mean that they are as scary as they seem. The numbers provided represent the number of children that are reported missing every year, and that doesn’t represent only kidnappings. On average, 90% of those numbers represent something more benign. Any time a child is reported missing, that instance is added to those numbers, so they include things like runaway children, children that got lost on the way to their family’s plans, and even miscommunications about the family’s plans. If a child runs away or gets lost or their parents are unable to locate them for any reason that makes them report the child as missing more than once throughout a year, it’s counted into those numbers multiple times. Once for each instance.
On average, only 10% of missing children were kidnapped. That makes the yearly average in the US closer to 80,000 and worldwide the number is closer to 800,000. We can actually break these numbers down even further. About 90% of abductions are done by a family member, usually a parent during a custody dispute. That means that on average, around 72,000 abductions are done by family in the US and 720,000 worldwide. Around 7% are done by an acquaintance during another crime, and that comes out to about 5,600 in the US and 56,000 worldwide. Less than a percent are done by total strangers, usually, about 100 kids are abducted this way in the US or 1000 word wide.
On the bright side, that means that 720,000 missing children in the US and 7.2 million missing children worldwide were not kidnapped, but were missing due to something a lot less scary like running away or getting lost. Knowing this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t report your child missing if they do go missing, reporting it to the proper authorities is the best way to make sure that your child is returned home no matter the reason they are missing.
The best way to ensure that your child doesn’t go missing due to one of the more common causes is to make sure that everyone is on the same page when making plans. Talk to your child to find out how they are doing, and be involved in their life. Just because an abduction is much less likely than your child running away, doesn’t mean that it is impossible, so always be sure to report it to the proper authorities if your child goes missing for any reason.