How Often Does Kidnapping Happen?

A popular question that is getting asked around the internet these days is “how often does a kid get kidnapped?” The short answer to that is quite simple; too often. Any time a child is abducted it is a tragedy, and the more that we can prevent occurrences like this from happening, the better. Although it seems like a question like this should have a straightforward answer, in reality, the only way to properly gauge statistics is if they are correctly reported. Sadly enough, not all child abductions are reported.

Missing Children

Some of the statistics that we have to work with are from actual reports. In the year 2020, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there were close to 30,000 cases of missing children. It turns out that over 90% of the missing children were due to teenagers running away from home. Approximately five percent of the missing children were family abductions, where a family member took the child. Less than one percent of the abductions were abductions from strangers. So, if you do the math you can see that less than 300 children were abducted in 2020 by strangers.

More Ugly Math

If we just take the number 300 and use it as an example number, we can get a general idea that since there are 52 weeks in a year if you divide 300 by 52 you will get a number that is close to 6. We will round down to give it the benefit of inconclusive information and say the number is 5. If you were to spread the number out over the span of a year, there would be approximately 5 children that are abducted by strangers per week in the United States. That’s too many.

The Runaways

So if 91% of the missing children in 2020 were runaways, that will leave approximately 26,500 children that were runaways. Of those runaways, one in six were likely victims of sex trafficking rings. That means that over 4,400 children were pulled into sex trafficking practices. Now, it may seem like the teenagers just “ran away” but in most cases, these teens were sought out and primed for the perfect pickings by abductors that entice them over time with money and other gifts. Once the teens let their guard down and trust their abductors, they become prey. Once the teens are fully in the trap, they get forced into prostitution by their abductors. In many cases, the abductors introduce the teens to addictive drugs and get them strung out so that they can have full control over them.

How Often Does it Happen?

We mentioned above that abductions happen too often. In fact, they probably happen more than most people believe. Whether it is a sexual predator that randomly kidnaps children or a smooth-talking child sex trafficker that searches them out and provocatively grooms them it is still the same type of crime. In both cases, children are exploited and harmed for selfish reasons. It is safe to assume that a child gets abducted in one way or another every day. In fact, if you do the math again children get abducted over 12 times a day. That is one every two hours. The numbers may not seem very high, but each of these children is the child of a parent. Each kid is a family that is devastated.


No matter how safe you believe your neighborhood is, or how much you know about what your children do on the internet, it is always a good idea to double-check and make sure. Predators like to target children that are most vulnerable and susceptible to advances. Use tools like sex offender registries to check your neighborhood for convicted sex offenders regularly. With a team effort and a watchful eye, we can keep our children safer in our own communities.

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