Updated February 21, 2020

Kidnapping Statistics

Every 40 seconds a child goes missing somewhere in the United States. There are more than 460,000 missing children each year. Of those missing children, almost 1,500 of them are kidnapped.

Keep reading to learn more about the staggering statistics of missing children and kidnapping.

The Staggering Statistics

  • How many kids are kidnapped each year?
    There are approximately 1,435 kidnappings each year. This number is an estimate, however, as not every case gets reported, especially as it pertains to family member abductions.

  • How many kids are kidnapped by family members?
    A family abduction is the taking or concealing of a child under the age of 17 against the person's legal rights. Family members abduct children in 1,230 of the total kidnapping cases.

  • How many kids are kidnapped by strangers?
    A stranger abduction, also known as a non-family abduction, is the result of a stranger taking or luring a child under the age of 17. Of the 1,435 kidnappings per year, 205 were non-family abductions.

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  • What is the most common age group of traditional stranger kidnappings?
    Females aged 12-17 were the most commonly abducted group. Among those females, a majority of them did not live with two parents (either biological or adopted).

  • How many children abducted by strangers make it home safely?
    90% of children abducted by strangers make it home safe and sound.

  • What is the most common age of an abducted child?
    Children aged 12 and over are the victims of kidnapping in more than 80% of the cases. Teen behavior and irresponsibility are often considered the culprit before officials consider abduction. This is not the case for children aged 12 and under. A younger child who has gone missing often prompts quicker action.

Missing Children

  • How many children are reported missing each year?
    In 2016, 465,676 children were reported missing to the authorities. During the same year, there were a total of 647,435 missing people.

  • What percentage of reported missing children are not actually abducted?
    In almost 90% of the reported missing children cases, abduction is not the issue. It's often due to miscommunication, getting lost, or children running away.

  • How many Amber Alerts are issued each year?
    In 2016, 179 Amber Alerts were issued. The alerts involved 231 kids. Amber Alerts are issued if a child under the age of 17 is believed to have been abducted and is suspected to be in immediate danger of injury or even death.

  • How many Amber Alerts turn out to be a hoax?
    In 2016, there were eight "hoax" Amber Alert cases. This means either the parents falsely reported the child missing or the child reported his disappearance in an attempt to throw off law enforcement professionals.


  • How many children run away each year?
    As many as 2.8 million teens run away from home each year. The typical age of runaways is between the ages of 10 and 18.

  • What percentage of runaways are female?
    More than ¾ of the teen runaways are female. Of the female runaways who remain homeless, as many as 20% of them end up homeless and pregnant.

  • What percentage of teen runaways left due to physical abuse?
    Almost half of the teen runaways left home due to some type of physical abuse, either from their own family or in the foster care system.

  • What percentage of teen runaways left due to sexual abuse?
    As many as 17% of teen runaways ran away due to unwanted sexual activity from a family member, either in their household or extended family.

Defining Child Abduction

  • What is the definition of child abduction?
    Anyone who wrongfully removes, retains, or conceals a child commits abduction. It can occur with the use of force, such as in the traditional method of kidnapping, or through the use of luring or persuasion.

  • What is the definition of family abduction?
    A family member who takes a child against their will commits a family abduction. The child generally knows the perpetrator well, but does not willingly go with the person.

  • How does a parent kidnap their own child?
    If a child under court-ordered custody orders is taken by another parent, it is considered parental abduction. This goes beyond a custody battle and becomes a legal issue for the accused parent.

  • What is the "typical" abduction?
    When most people think of abduction, they think of a stranger abduction. The victim generally does not know the perpetrator at all. The kidnapper violently attacks, takes, or lures the child into their custody. In a majority of cases, this occurs within ¼-mile of the child's home.

Today's technology of cellphones and internet usage has made it much easier to keep track of children and get them home safely. Of course, no child or adult, for that matter, is ever out of danger. Constantly educating your children and staying aware of their surroundings can help keep your children safe with you, where they belong.

Sources and References:

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