The problem of missing children is complex and multifaceted. There are different types of missing children including family abductions; endangered runaways; non-family abductions; and lost, injured, or otherwise missing children. When the public hears of a missing child case, it is generally involving one of the estimated 115 child victims of the most serious, long-term non-family abduction called “stereotypical kidnappings”.
The best national estimates for the number of missing children are from incidence studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. To date two such studies have been completed.
The first National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART-1) was released in 1990, and the second, known as NISMART-2, was released in October 2002. According to NISMART-2 research, which studied the year 1999, an estimated 797,500 children were reported missing; 203,900 children were abducted by nonfamily members; 115 children were the victims of the most serious, long-term nonfamily abductions called “stereotypical kidnappings”; and 58,200 children were the victims of family abductions.
Source: NCMEC- How many missing children are there?
[Andrea J. Sedlak, David Finkelhor, Heather Hammer, and Dana J. Schultz. U.S. Department of Justice. "National Estimates of Missing Children: An Overview" in National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, October 2002, page 5.]
REFERENCE: For more information on missing children abduction estimates and the NISMART studies, please read
- NISMART-2, October 2002. Nonfamily Abducted Children: National Estimates and Characteristics Adobe PDF
- NISMART-2, October 2002. Children Abducted by Family Members: National Estimates and Characteristics Adobe PDF
- NISMART-2, October 2002. Runaway/Thrownaway Children: National Estimates and Characteristics Adobe PDF
Note: the NCMEC numbers differ from those in the NISMART2 study due to sample sizes, estimates and how data was reported to researchers.