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 Canada, there were 40, 425 missing children reports in 2019.
Government of Canada, Background – 2018 Fast Fact Sheet, at https://www.canadasmissing.ca/pubs/2019/index-eng.htm
In India, an estimated 111,569 children were reported missing in 2016.
Ministry of Home Affairs, National Crime Records Bureau, Crime in India: Statistics 2016, at http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2016/pdfs/Crime%20Statistics%20-%202016.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 21,551 reports of missing children in 2019.
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 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 80,000 children go missing annually.
Key Information, Missing People, at https://www.missingpeople.org.uk/about-us/about-the-issue/research/76-keyinformation2.html
In 2019, there were 421,394 reports of missing children in the United States.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2019 NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics, at https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/2019-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.