Missing Children Statistics

One Missing Child Is One Too Many

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.au/news-media/media-releases/young-people-focus-national-missing-persons-week

In Brazil, an estimated 40,000 children are reported missing every year.

Estes, Richard J; Gattás, Gilka Jorge Figaro; Figaro-Garcia, Claudia; and Landini, Tatiana Savoia, Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Missing Children in the Coastal Region of Sao Paulo State, Brazil, 2012, at http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/childrenatrisk/vol3/iss2/10.

In Canada, there were 45,609 missing children reports in 2016.

Government of Canada, Background – 2016 Fast Fact Sheetat http://www.canadasmissing.ca/pubs/2016/index-eng.htm

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.

Interview with Pavel Astakhov MIA “Russia Today”, Apr. 4, 2016, at http://www.rfdeti.ru/display.php?id=11071

In Spain, an estimated 20,000 children are reported missing every year.

Spain Joins EU Hotline for Missing Children, Sep. 22, 2010, at http://www.theleader.info/article/25040/spain-joins-eu-hotline-formissing-children/

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 2016, there were more than 465,000 reports of missing children in the United States.

Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2016 NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics, at https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/2016-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.