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 20,000 children are reported missing every year.
Australian Federal Police, National Coordination Centre, at http://www.missingpersons.gov.au/education–training/working-with-young-people.
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, an estimated 45,288 children are reported missing each year.
Government of Canada, Canada’s Missing – 2015 Fast Fact Sheet – MC/PUR Missing child subjects by province, sex and probable cause, at http://www.canadasmissing.ca/pubs/2015/index-eng.htm.
In Germany, an estimated 100,000 children are reported missing each year.
Initiative Vermisste Kinder, at http://www.vermisste-kinder.de/.
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, an estimated 112,853 children are reported missing every year.
National Crime Agency, UK Missing Persons Bureau – Missing Persons Data Report 2014/2015 15, May 16, 2016, at http://www.missingpersons.
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.