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, National Missing Persons Coordination Centre, Myths and Facts about Missing Persons, at https://missingpersons.gov.au/sites/default/files/PDF%20-%20Publications/NMPCC/Factsheets/17%20-%200905%20NMPCC%20Myths_and_Facts%20ENGLISH.pdf
In Canada, there were 28,033 missing children reports in 2021.
Government of Canada, Background – 2021 Fast Fact Sheet, at https://www.canadasmissing.ca/pubs/2021/index-eng.htm
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 Russia, an estimated 50,000 children were reported missing in 2019.
In South Korea, there were 21,379 reports of missing children in 2021.
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 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 337,195 reports of missing children in the United States.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2021 NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics, at https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/2021-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.