How Many Missing Children are Found Each Year?

Having a child go missing is a terrifying experience. But most children who go missing are discovered and fairly quickly. Understanding how parents and governments go about finding a missing child can help any left-behind parent assess what to do next.

How Many Missing Children Are Found Each Year?

According to our research and experience, out of the half a million children that go missing every year in the United States, nearly all of them are found. That’s 97.8%. So, half a million children go missing, but nearly all of them are also found.

When most people think about missing children, they imagine children being lured into white vans. But if a father or mother takes a child without permission, and they don’t have custody, that’s considered a missing child, and the vast majority of missing kids are due to family abductions. There are more than 3,000 attempted snatchings per year, and more than 90% of those are runaways or parental abductions.

But missing children, for whatever reason, always needs to be treated as a serious child abduction. Even a parent can potentially do harm to a child. Because of this, all cases are taken seriously.

How Are Missing Children Usually Found?

According to the FBI, in 2020 there were 365,348 NCIC entries for missing children. In 2019, the total number of missing children entries into the NCIC was 421,395. In our experience, 50% of these are parental abductions.

Law enforcement, investigators, and family members may use many tools to try to find missing children. That includes banking records, social media accounts, public cameras, and other resources. The more people looking for the children, the more likely it is that they will be discovered quickly. Other tools, such as Amber alerts, may also be used.

When older children have gone missing of their own volition, the odds of any significant danger are lessened but not eradicated. When there is a hotly contested custody dispute or children have been abducted by a stranger, the case needs to be treated with more urgency. Either way, the authorities will work closely with parents and other family members to try to locate the child as soon as possible.

How Do Children Go Missing?

Many children go missing because a non-custodial family member has taken them away. The family member may not even perceive this as a kidnapping, but it legally is. Other children go missing because they have run away. It is incredibly rare for a stranger to take a child. But abduction by a non-custodial parent is no less dangerous. Sometimes, the parent may think they have the child’s best interest in mind, but they are never going through the appropriate legal route.
When a child goes missing because they have been abducted, it’s especially important to find them quickly. While children have sometimes been discovered years or decades after the fact, it becomes more difficult for the child to be assimilated back into the family.

Ultimately, most children who go missing are found. But just finding the child isn’t always the end of the situation. If there’s been a custody dispute, parents often need to address the custody problems, go to family court, and otherwise get legal assistance. The process of finding and ensuring that a child is safe is something that parents should have an advocate for.
If you have more questions about missing children, how they’re discovered, and how you can get help, contact us today. We can help you find the resources that you need.