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 2021, more than 34,000 missing persons reports in Australia related to children under age 18.

Australian Federal Police, News & Media, Press Release: International Missing Children’s Day 2022, at https://www.afp.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/international-missing-children%E2%80%99s-day-2022-looking-through-eyes-family

In Canada, there were 30,840 missing children reports in 2022.

Government of Canada, Background – 2022 Fast Fact Sheetat https://www.canadasmissing.ca/pubs/2022/index-eng.htm

In 2021, in France, 43,870 reports of missing children were made to the police and gendarmerie.

Droit d’Enfance, The 116 000 Missing Children, at https://www.droitdenfance.org/116000-enfants-disparus-2/ 

In Germany, there were 83,900 children reported as missing in 2021.

Bundeskriminalamt Vermisste Faelle, at https://www.bka.de/DE/UnsereAufgaben/Ermittlungsunterstuetzung/BearbeitungVermisstenfaelle/bearbeitungVermisstenfaelle.html;jsessionid=84C0DAFB491E87CA9045F7713CB67484.live301?nn=30666#doc19618bodyText3

In India, an estimated 59,262 children were reported missing in 2020.

Ministry of Home Affairs, National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India: Statistics 2020, at https://ncrb.gov.in/sites/default/files/crime_in_india_table_additional_table_chapter_reports/TABLE%2015.1.pdf 

In Italy in 2021, there were a total of 12,117 missing minors, of which 3,324 were Italians and 8,793 were foreigners.

Every day 30 minors disappear in Italy, already 3,589 in 2022, ANSA Chronicle, at https://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/cronaca/2022/05/25/ogni-giorno-30-minori-scomparsi-in-italia-gia-3589-nel-2022_40cb0c1f-4024-4502-9af2-ac7370432dbb.html#:~:text=In%20occasione%20della%20’Giornata%20Internazionale,2.409%20stranieri%20e%201.180%20italiani  

In 2022 in Lithuania, 1,938 children were reported missing. 

Lithuania Official Statistics Portal, at https://osp.stat.gov.lt/statistiniu-rodikliu-analize#/

In Russia, an estimated 50,000 children were reported missing in 2019.

Interfax Russia, Matvienko: About 50,000 children go missing in Russia every year, at https://www.interfax-russia.ru/main/matvienko-v-rossii-ezhegodno-propadaet-okolo-50-tys-detey

In South Korea, there were 26,416 reports of missing children in 2022.

National Police Agency, Status of receiving and handling reports of missing childrenat https://www.index.go.kr/unity/potal/main/EachDtlPageDetail.do?idx_cd=1610

In Spain, an estimated 1,978 children were still missing at the end of 2019.

INFORME “Personas desaparecidas” 2019 at https://cndes-web.ses.mir.es/publico/Desaparecidos/dam/jcr:54f9d3d5-732b-402f-b80b-87b9905975b3/Informe_personas_desaparecidas_2020.pdf

In the United Kingdom, over 46,870 children were reported missing in 137,043 incidents in 2020/2021.

Missing Persons Statistics Bulletin, National Crime Agency, at http://www.missingpersons.police.uk/en-gb/resources/downloads/missing-persons-statistical-bulletins

In 2021, there were 359,094 reports of missing children in the United States.

Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2022 NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics, at https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/2022-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.