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, 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 Sheetat 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.

https://www.interfax-russia.ru/main/matvienko-v-rossii-ezhegodno-propadaet-okolo-50-tys-detey

In South Korea, there were 21,379 reports of missing children in 2021.

National Police Agency, Missing children, including reports received and processed statusat 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.