Missing Children Statistics and Facts

Unfortunately, many children go missing in the United States each year.  Often, it is not reported which makes determining the total number of affected children difficult to determine.  Any child that is reported missing is entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. In 2020, the center reported 365,348 children were declared missing.  Sometimes, missing children are runaways.  Even if they run away multiple times, each incident is reported in the center’s database.  In fact, the hotline for the Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has received over five million calls.  While these organizations circulate billions of photos in an effort to recover missing children, they also provide training to law enforcement and healthcare professionals so that they can work together more effectively.


There are several statistics that stand out when it comes to missing children. Of the 29,800 known missing children, 91% are runaways.  More importantly are the children who are abducted by a parent, often to a foreign country.  This happens more often than previously thought.  Many bitter divorces end in a child being taken unwillingly. With child abductions, one in six were victims of child trafficking.  While law enforcement makes every effort to locate these children, it can be difficult.  The AMBER ALERT program has been able to locate 1,029 children and reunite them with their families.

Finding Children Through Age Progression

Forensic scientists work with federal authorities and agencies to develop images of children as they age.  These images are very important in locating children in dangerous situations.  NEMEC has successfully reconstructed images of 1,029 children. The most common cause of child abduction involves a parent.  Being able to provide better clues greatly helps with the recovery of the child.

Sex Trafficking

Unfortunately, child sex trafficking is a reality.  Many children are lost in a system that takes advantage of them.  It has been reported that 19,200 children were forced into this system in 2019.  It is difficult to determine the true numbers, however.  Police reported contacts from more than 178,000 people asking for help.  This is a true problem, and it is difficult to assess the scope of the issue.  In 2020, the FBI reported over 365,348 requests for assistance in locating missing children.  This is in no way representative of the total number of missing children as many go unreported. NCMEC reported in 2020 that 26,500 children were listed as runaways.  They estimate that one in six were sex trafficking victims.  The sex trafficking of children and young adults continues to thrive with people being moved around the world for the pleasure of others.

Parental or Family Abductions

While there are many threats to the safety of children, the most common is the abduction by a parent or family member.  In 1999, there were about 203,900 children who were taken by a parent without proper court approval.  About 78% of these kidnappers were non-custodial parents who did not agree with the court’s decision.  In about 66% of cases, the abduction was done by a male relative.  In almost three-quarters of the cases, the parent believed that they would be able to keep the child with them even though they had illegally taken the child to another country.

Finding a Missing Child

Whether your child has run away or has and abducted by a parent or family member, the grief and anxiety are real. There are governmental agencies that can help but more importantly, there are nonprofit agencies that can help with the search and also help you with the emotional trauma of having a missing child.  No one should be left to fight this fight alone.

Fighting the Fight for Our Children

No child should ever have to experience abduction or sex trafficking.  These incidences can significantly impact the development of a child or young adult.  While most cases involve a parent being unsatisfied with a divorce outcome, a child being forcibly removed to an unfamiliar location has lasting effects.

Help with Parental Kidnappings, Regardless of Borders

When a child is abducted by a parent, the options can seem limited.  That’s why you need an effective partner to assist you.  At The Committee for Missing Children, their team is committed to helping you with the support that you need.  Not knowing where a child happens to be a parent’s worst nightmare.  You may not know where to turn to or even where to start the search.  The team at The Committee for Missing Children is experienced and knowledgeable.  They realize that the costs associated with locating a child in another country are often beyond the parent’s means. So, they step in with the travel funds needed when you need it the most.

Parental abductions occur all too frequently. They divide families create lasting animosity, particularly during a bitter divorce. But know that even when you are at a low ebb and truly frightened for your child, there is a team that is ready to help and support you. At The Committee for Missing Children, our focus is on safely returning your child to you. We also provide the emotional support need to recover from a frightening event. We focus our financial resources on reuniting children and family members. That is our sole commitment to you.

If you and your child need help, we will be there every step of the way. If your child has been abducted by a parent or family member, don’t wait. Give us a call so that our team can help with all of the resources we have.


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Comments (1)

  1. Child abduction not only create paranoia and other chronic anxieties for the legal parent….it can also have a psychological impact on the child…who is totally unsuspecting, naive and innocent about what is happening around them….a parent is suppose to be trusted…not exploitative, deceitful and abusive…it is so sad that there are people out there who are willing to do anything for money, even to the detriment of their own child through unethical means by distorting and exploiting child services, social security and and the rule of law to pursue personal interests.