99.8% of the children who go missing do come home.

  • Nearly 90% of missing children have simply misunderstood directions or miscommunicated their plans, are lost, or have run away.
  • 9% are kidnapped by a family member in a custody dispute.
  • 3% are abducted by non-family members, usually during the commission of a crime such as robbery or sexual assault. The kidnapper is often someone the child knows.
  • Only about 100 children (a fraction of 1%) are kidnapped each year in the stereotypical stranger abductions you hear about in the news.
  • About half of these 100 children come home.

National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children -- 2003

Every ten years or so the US Department of Justice conducts a study of missing child cases in the United States. The most recent, NISMART II, was published in October 2003.

This study is in PDF format. You may need to download the free Adobe Reader to view them.

Kidnapped Child Homicide Statistics

Additionally, in 1997 the Attorney General of Washington State conducted a study focussing on missing child murders.

The most important information pertains to children who were kidnapped by violent or predatory abductors (approximately 1 in every 10,000 reports of a missing child -- about 100 US children per year.) For these children, "in 74 percent of the cases the victims were dead within three hours after abduction."

This information supports current law enforcement procedures to immediatly launch a widespread search for a missing child, in case the kidnapping is one in that small group. But it is incorrect to assume that 74% of all kidnapped children are at risk of being killed if not found within 3 hours.

You can download the Executive Summary of that report here in PDF format, Abduction - Homicide Study

Additional child kidnapping information: