The lack of a common definition of “missing child,” and a common response to the issue, results in few reliable statistics on the scope of the problem around the world.Even with this challenge, we know that:
In Australia, an estimated 25,000 young people are reported missing every year.
Australian Federal Police, Young people a focus for National Missing Persons Week, Jul. 31, 2017, at https://www.afp.gov.
In Brazil, an estimated 40,000 children are reported missing every year.
Claudia Figaro-Garcia, Modern Pediatrics, Vol. 47 No. 1, What are missing children and adolescents?, Jan/Feb 2011, at http://www.moreirajr.com.br/revistas.asp?fase=r003&id_materia=4546
In Canada, there were 45,609 missing children reports in 2016.
In India, an estimated 96,000 children go missing each year.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Missing Children of India, at http://www.bba.org.in/sites/default/files/Synopsis.pdf
In Russia, an estimated 45,000 children were reported missing in 2015.
Pavel Astakhov: There is much to be done, we will work where the motherland sends us, RIA Novosti, Apr. 4, 2016, at https://ria.ru/interview/20160404/1402047748.html
In South Korea, there were 19,956 reports of missing children in 2017.
National Police Agency, Missing children, including reports received and processed status, at http://www.index.go.kr/potal/main/EachDtlPageDetail.do?idx_cd=1610
In Spain, an estimated 20,000 children are reported missing every year.
Paula Díaz Meira, 20,000 reports of missing children per year in Spain, Público, Sep. 15, 2010, at http://www.publico.es/espana/20-000-denuncias-ninos-desaparecidos.html
In the United Kingdom, there were 60,045 missing persons under the age of 18.
National Crime Agency, UK Missing Persons Bureau, Missing Persons Data Report 2015/2016, December 2017, at http://nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/876-missing-persons-data-report-2015-2016-1/file
In 2017, there were more than 464,000 reports of missing children in the United States.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2017 NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics, at https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/2017-ncic-missing-person-and-unidentified-person-statistics.pdf/view
This, however, is only a snapshot of the problem. In many countries, statistics on missing children are not even available; and, unfortunately, even available statistics may be inaccurate due to: under-reporting/under-recognition; inflation; incorrect database entry of case information; and deletion of records once a case is closed.
The lack of numbers, and the discrepancy in the numbers that do exist, is one of the key reasons why ICMEC developed and advocates for the Model Missing Child Framework, which assists countries with building strong, well-rounded national responses, and facilitates more efficient investigations, management, and resolution of missing children cases.
At ICMEC, we firmly believe that one missing child is one too many, and we are committed to improving the global understanding of and response to missing and abducted children.