What Are The Chances Of Your Child Being Kidnapped? Official Child Abduction Statistics Is Not That Comforting

November 2, 2018 20:08

What is the worst thing any parent can face? Unfortunately, almost no one would first think of abduction. And it is not because parents do not want to protect their children. On the contrary, many modern fathers and mothers often tend to overprotect them. However, even the most protected children can go missing. This is the sad truth, which is showcased in the 2018 child abduction statistics. The numbers are not really comforting, as they clearly show that we indeed need to raise awareness about different ways of how to prevent your child from being kidnapped.

Although the overall crime rates in the US went down over the last decades, the situation with child kidnapping didn’t really improved and still remains one of the most disturbing problems. To put it simply, one child becomes missing every 40 seconds across the country. Isn’t it just horrifying? We believe that only by knowing what you’re dealing with you can effectively protect your child. Therefore, we’ve gathered some important numbers that best describe the current situation in the US.

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The US child abduction statistics: categories

According to the FBI and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the problem of missing children in the US is indeed enormous and under-recognized even nowadays. The latest report states that more than 760,000 children go missing each year. And although the vast majority of such cases resolves within a few hours, around 10% of the missing children are abducted.

The latest National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children, NISMART-3 shows how things have changed since 1999.

1. Abducted by family members

You might be surprised, but most child abductions are committed by family members! How is that possible? The answer is pretty simple and isn’t that frightening: a custody dispute. What parent would like to lose custody of their child? Around 9% to 10% of missing children are simply taken by the family members who have decided to violate the custodial parent or guardian’s legitimate rights. According to NISMART-3, approximately 230,600 children are abducted by family members a year, whereas the previous number of such cases was 192,900. It is worth noting that 78% of abductors were the non-custodial parent and around 66% were adult male relatives.

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2. Abducted by non-family members

Around 3% of child missing cases are non-stereotypical abductions during robberies, sexual assaults, etc. Often times, the child knows the kidnapper. This type of child kidnapping is correlated with the overall crime rate in each state. NISMART-3, however, shows the unpleasant trend: around 58,000 of such cases in 1999 with an increase up to almost 130,000 a year nowadays.

3. Abducted by complete strangers

Only 100 children per year (which is less than 1%) are kidnapped by that stereotypical stranger on the street. As you can see, such cases happen quite rarely. Moreover, around half of these children get back home.

READ ALSO: More Than "Stranger Danger": 5 Tips To Teach Children How To Protect Themselves From Predators

The US child abduction statistics: facts and numbers

You might’ve heard that a lot of abducted children are found dead. To be precise, such cases happen very rarely – around 1 in 10,000 reports. What you also will not hear on the news is that the abducted child is typically murdered within 3 hours in more than 70% of such cases, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. This does mean that the child is at high risk of being murdered in a very short term, though such cases occur rarely.

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Overall, around 99% of all missing children do return to their families.

Statistical patterns and most common groups

Let’s now take a closer look at some specific patterns that repeat over time. Now that you now that most of missing children come back home, what groups do these children represent?

  1. The most common age group of kidnapped children is 12 and older. This age group represents around 80% of all child abduction cases. Reckless and irresponsible teen behavior is believed to be the culprit.
  2. The most common gender is female. This concerns especially those cases where abductors where complete strangers. Overall, females aged 12 – 17 are considered to be the most common kidnapped group with around 70% of the victims being girls.
  3. In 80% of all child abduction cases, the kidnapper finds their target practically near the child’s home – within a quarter mile.
  4. Let’s not forget about teen runaways. The most common age of such children is from 10 to 18. Would you be surprised to learn that as many as nearly 3 million teens run away each year? More than half of them are females, from which 20% end up homeless and/or pregnant.

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AMBER saves lives

It is important to know that back in 1996, the government program called the “AMBER Alert System” began its mission of establishing cooperation between broadcasters and police to find missing children as soon as possible. The alerts on radio and TV can force the abductors to release their victims in fear of being caught. It is thanks to ABMER Alerts, around 700 children have been brought back to their families.

The criteria, which should be met in order for an AMBER Alert to be issued, are pretty strict though: the child should be 17 or young; they should be believed in serious danger; parents should have a sufficient description of the child; parents should first report to the National Crime and Information Center. Such requirements, unfortunately, prevent many cases to be broadcasted.

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To sum up all the data above, we’ve created a small table with the most important facts that might help you protect your child:



Most common age of an abducted child

12 and older


Most common gender of an abducted child

Female (more than 70%)


Family abduction of missing reports

~9% to 10%


Non-family abduction of missing reports



Stereotypical stranger abduction

Less than 1%


Most common age of runaways

10 to 18


Most common gender of runaways



Overall, we clearly have a quite big room for improvement in this department. Unfortunately, the number of missing children grows with each year. The kidnapping statistics by year shows a drastic increase in child abductions by family members, as well as the even bigger increase in non-family children kidnappings. Let’s raise awareness – child abductions should become a thing of the past. Learn more on how to protect your child from such a horrible thing in our next articles.

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