Even though it may not seem that way, child abduction statistics show that this type of crime is far from frequent in the US. It is even rare when we talk about abduction meaning a child taken by a stranger.
Still, we are all witnesses to stressful headlines in newspapers and dramatic daily news that inform us about missing children. We can’t deny that child kidnapping is happening every day throughout the world.
Here are some intriguing stats on the issue.
Horrific Child Abduction Statistics & Facts (Editor’s Choice)
- Around 8 million children are reported missing each year worldwide.
- As estimated, 2300 children are reported missing daily in the US.
- Teenagers are the most common age group for abduction.
- Less than 1% of missing children get taken by strangers.
- More than 90% of abductions are a deed of one of the parents.
- A child is reported missing every two minutes in Europe.
General Missing Children Statistics
There are several types of kidnapping and several motives that may lead the perpetrator to an action like this.
1. There are three types of child abduction.
There are three types of child kidnapping:
- A stranger takes a child for criminal purposes (sexual assaults, ransom, etc.)
- A person abducts a child to raise it.
- Parental abduction – a non-custodial parent takes a child from the other parent.
2. Around 8 million children are reported missing each year worldwide.
Still, missing children statistics do have a brighter side, as well. There has been immense progress in recovering those children, especially in developed countries. National centers for missing and exploited children exist throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
3. As estimated, 2300 children are reported missing daily in the US.
(Child Find of America)
These are the five main reasons for children to go missing: abduction by a family member, abduction by a stranger, a child runs away or gets thrown away, children who get lost, stranded, or injured, other benign reasons, such as misunderstanding (for example, a child didn’t understand where they should meet their parent).
4. In 2020, almost 400 000 juveniles got abducted in the US.
When it comes to child abduction statistics 2020, there were 178 747 male juvenile kidnapping cases. Expectedly, the number of abducted girls is higher – 209 375 reported cases. Way fewer adults were missing – less than 160 000 people.
5. Teenagers are the most common age group for abduction.
Contrary to general belief, teenagers get kidnapped most often. The numbers are the same whether we talk about abduction by a family member or the cases when a stranger kidnaps a child.
6. More than 99% of missing children return home alive.
Child abduction cases indicate that the number of missing kids who later are found and taken back home is rising with technological progress. It is now much easier to communicate and hopefully find the missing child. These days, people use all Internet platforms, social networks and post photos of a missing child everywhere they can, which is the best way to find them.
Child Abduction Statistics - Non-Family Kidnapping
That stands behind the traditional meaning of the term ‘abduction’: a child taken by a stranger.
7. Less than 1% of missing children get abducted by strangers.
(Missing Kids, Reuters)
When it comes to all cases of children reported missing, less than 1% turned out to be abducted by strangers. On the opposite, the vast majority of them, 91%, ran away, as child kidnapping statistics prove.
When it comes to family abductions, they make up 5% of all cases of missing children. Judging by FBI stats, in the last ten years, fewer than 350 children (people under 21) are abducted annually by strangers.
8. 57% of children abducted by strangers make it back home.
Unfortunately, the number of children kidnapped by strangers isn’t as bright as in the previous stat. Still, child abduction rates show that more than half of them manage to survive and come home. Sadly, 40% get killed.
9. One in six runaways were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
As the 2020 statistics show, one in six children who ran away from home was a part of child sex trafficking. The same year, there were 26 500 child abduction cases, which means that more than 4 400 kids were involved in sex trafficking.
10. The first three hours after the abduction is the most crucial for finding a child.
Stats show that 74% of victims killed this way get murdered in the first three hours.
11. 71% of non-family abductions happen on the way to or from school.
Children kidnapping statistics reveal that most non-family abductions happen outdoors – up to 71% of them. Kidnappers usually intercept the child on their way to or from school, also in parks, in the streets, etc.
12. Abduction most often happens in the afternoon.
As opposed to the general belief that kidnapping usually occurs during the night, the statistics confirm a different truth. Namely, most of the abductions happen in the afternoon, before the dark.
13. Almost all the children abducted by strangers turn out to be taken by men.
Child abduction statistics show that most kidnappers unknown to the victim are male. Following that, about two-thirds of children kidnapped by male strangers are young girls.
14. Abducted children often come from low-income households.
Children who get abducted very often come from low-income families. In addition, their parents are often divorced or separated. This fact has a psychological background to it. Namely, by living in harsh conditions, children get traumatized at an early age and become easy targets to the perpetrators.
Statistics on Child Abductions by Family
The majority of kids’ abduction cases in the US are parental kidnapping. It means one of the parents takes and holds the child without the consent of the other parent, nor the legal right for such activity.
15. More than 90% of abductions are a deed of one of the parents.
(Journalist Secure, Reuters)
In addition, in 60% of recorded cases, the mothers and female family members are the offenders. For example, statistics on child abduction indicate that, in 2017, there were 2359 cases of children abducted by a non-custodial parent.
16. Three in a thousand children get abducted by a family member each year.
This statistic refers to the US only. Children are kidnapped more often by their non-custodial parent (or another family member) than by a stranger.
Child Abduction Statistics by Country
Of course, these stats differ from one country to another. Still, these states can be vague because there are tons of unreported cases, especially in countries with lower economic power. Also, the numbers can be deceiving if we don’t compare them to the total population of a particular nation.
17. New Zealand is the country with the top child abduction rate.
Even if it may be surprising, New Zealand has the highest abduction rate worldwide, starting 2018 – 9.5 cases per 100 000 citizens. The same is the number in Pakistan. The third is Luxembourg (with 6 cases per 100 000 people). The fourth is Germany, with 5.5 cases per 100 000, while the fifth is Ecuador (4.4).
Still, abducted child statistics remind us that we must keep in mind many of kids’ abduction cases don’t get reported throughout the world, so we can’t be completely confident when it comes to these stats.
18. Around 20 000 children become missing annually in Australia.
(Global Missing Kids)
Even though by the latest statistics, New Zealand is the country with the most child abductions, Australia’s child abduction statistics by year are just as frightening.
19. In India, around 100 000 children go missing every year.
(Global Missing Kids)
Even though this number seems like a large one, we should consider the number of India’s citizens. Over 1.3 billion people are living there. Still, approximately the same number of children get abducted in Germany every year. Their population is almost 84 million people.
However, we can’t trust the official number of missing children. The majority of abduction cases don’t even get reported in India.
20. Thousands of children get abducted and sold in China.
We don’t have exact (or at least ) numbers as China’s government doesn’t keep this kind of statistics. Also, in China, parental abduction is not considered to be a criminal offense. Stats on child abduction point out the principal targets for perpetrators (who are strangers) are usually boys, who are sent on the streets to beg. The word is, boys can get sold for around 11 000 euros and girls for 2000 euros.
21. A child gets reported missing every two minutes in Europe.
Still, more than half of those cases (54.5% to be exact) turn out to be children who have run away. Still, many of the kids (22.7%) are abducted by one of the parents, as stats on missing children per year confirm.
22. 35% of missing children in Europe got found by the police in 2019.
Still, only 19 European countries were a part of this particular research. The police found 35% of all missing children in 2019, while 30% came back alone and 28% were brought back by a third party.
23. Alaska is the number one US state when it comes to missing people.
When it comes to child abduction statistics 2020 by state, Alaska takes the lead. Then come Arizona, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. Still, if we observe the numbers and don’t compare them to the number of citizens, California takes the lead.
The most common concept of child abduction is when a non-custodial parent kidnaps the child. Children also go missing, taken by a stranger. The problem is many of the cases don’t even get reported to the authorities, especially in developing countries.
Child abduction is a part of our reality, and hopefully, we will manage to improve the stats, making them brighter from one year to another.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How Many Children are Abducted Each Year?
Unfortunately, a large number of children get kidnapped every year. For instance, in 2020 only, almost 400 000 juveniles got abducted in the US. As expected, more of them were girls – 209 375, compared to 178 747 boys. In comparison, a significantly lower is the number of adults kidnapped – less than 160 000 people. Still, statistics indicate that more than 99% of abducted children make it back home alive.
Where Do Most Child Abductions Occur?
Most non-family abductions happen outdoors – up to 71% of them. The perpetrators usually intercept the child on their way to or from school, in parks, in the streets, etc. The action usually happened in the late afternoon or early morning, while it is still dark. Also, perpetrators are very familiar with children’s psychology. They usually abduct traumatized children or the ones that come from low-income families.
What State Has the Highest Rate of Child Abduction?
When it comes to the US, Alaska is the state with the highest number of missing people, in general (including adults and children). The state of Arizona takes second place, followed by Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. On the other hand, if we don’t compare the percent of missing people to the number of citizens, California takes first place, with the highest number of reported cases.
Who Is Most Likely to Abduct a Child?
Contrary to general belief, children rarely get abducted by strangers. Instead, the highest number of kidnappers are family members, especially non-custodial parents. In up to 60% of the abductions, the abductor is the mother of the child. Nonetheless, 90% of all missing children get taken by their parents (or, less commonly, another family member). For example, 2017 saw 2359 cases of children abducted by a non-custodial parent.
How Many Kids Get Kidnapped a Day?
The numbers vary from one country to another. If we observe globally, around 8 million kids get kidnapped throughout the world every year. The number is most probably a lot higher because many cases don’t get reported at all. In the US, 2300 children get taken every single day. During 2020, for example, there were more than 400 000 recorded cases.
What Country Has the Highest Child Abduction Rate?
Even though until recently Asian countries were taking the lead, since 2018, New Zealand seems to be the country with the most record cases of child abduction. To illustrate, 9.5 kids get kidnapped per 100 000 citizens. Still, New Zealand seems to share first place with Pakistan, which meets identical figures. Luxembourg is the third, with six reported cases per 100 000 people.
What Is the Most Common Age for Kidnapping?
Even though the general belief is that young children get kidnapped the most often, the truth is somewhat contrasting. The age group that gets abducted the most is teenagers, especially girls. А lot of children taken by strangers often get used for sex trafficking. That includes children who ran away from home and are considered missing. Thus, it doesn’t come off as strange that most kidnappers are male.
How Many Missing Children are Found?
When it comes to children taken by strangers, 57% of them make it back home alive. Sadly, perpetrators manage to kill up to 40% of the abducted kids. The problem is, as we have already mentioned that a lot of cases never get reported. For example, in Europe, up to 35% of kids reported missing in 2019 got saved by the police. In the end, more than 99% of missing children make it home alive, as child abduction statistics show.