Statistics on Child Abduction
Parents Fear Kidnapping More Than Car Accidents - What are the Odds?
Sep 11, 2009 Lisa C. DeLuca
Know Kidnapping Statistics - Gabriella Fabbri, Sxc.hu
Confronting the facts about child abduction, kidnapping and sexual assault of children can be unsettling, but gives parents some understanding of what to teach kids.
Parents seem to fear kidnapping more than anything else. Some say that excessive television news coverage of child abduction causes parents to have a fear that is overblown. In 1999, only 115 children were abducted by strangers with the intent to keep, kill or hold them for ransom.
Though horrifying for those 115 and for society as a whole, the number does seem small, especially considering that there are 40 million children
in the US. This would place the odds of a child being kidnapped and held or killed by a stranger at 1 in 347,000.
But statistics show that lots more children are taken by acquaintances or people they know
, primarily for the purpose of sexually assaulting them, so the parental fear may not be as overblown as it seems.
Confronting the fact that heinous crimes are committed against children probably makes people feel worse, regardless of whether the statistics show small or large numbers. But staying informed and knowing the facts can be useful when considering how to instruct children. Here are some statistics:
According to the FBI and The US Dept. of Justice:
29,000 Children Sexually Assaulted, Mostly Girls
- 800,000 juveniles (under 18) are reported missing each year, but this includes runaways.
- "Family kidnapping" accounts for nearly 50% of all child kidnappings.
- Approximately 80% of acquaintance and stranger kidnappings are sexually motivated.
- For every 10,000 missing child reports (including runaways) around one child was killed, according to the U.S. Justice Department in 1990.
According to David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in conjunction with the United States Federal Justice Department, 58,000 children in 1999 were taken for short periods of time (i.e. not overnight) mostly by people they knew excluding relatives. Of those, nearly half were sexually assaulted and many were killed. (The report says “fewer than 1% were killed” but 1% of 58,000 is 580, a substantial number.) Nearly two-thirds of these abductees were girls, most of whom were teenagers.
This is why children must be taught that they cannot trust every person just because they recognize them or know them. They should be taught to always trust their instincts and get themselves out of situations that make them uncomfortable.
Non-Family Abductions Total 3,000 to 5,000 per Year
According to the Amber Alert Registry, approximately 3,000 to 5,000 abductions each year are non-family abductions.
Most of these cases are sexual assault cases. About 74% of the victims of non-family child abduction are girls. *and this case isn't an Amber Alert? Correct?
The Shergar Kidnapping
The 1983 abduction of the record breaking colt Shergar remains an unsolved mystery.
About 200 to 300 of these cases are the most serious cases where a child was murdered, taken with the intent to keep, or held for ransom. According to Finkelhor, only 115 cases of this type of kidnapping occurred in 1999. These children were taken by strangers or barely known acquaintances. While stranger abduction is the most uncommon, it is by far the most dangerous. Half of these children were sexually assaulted and 40% were killed.
Abduction Usually Occurs Near the Child’s Home
The Department of Justice revealed that in 80% of abductions by strangers, the first contact occurred and/or the abduction itself occurred within a quarter mile of the child's home. This implies that children may be watched by their abductor prior to being taken.
Most victims are either forced or lured into the cars of the abductors. Never approaching a car should be a large focus of teaching safety to children.
The typical victim in child abductions resulting in murders was 11 years old, white females in middle class neighborhoods, just like Jaycee Dugard
, who was kidnapped at age 11 and recently reunited with her family after 18 years in captivity. This is according to a 1997 survey sponsored by the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention or OJJDP.
Where Kidnappings Occur
A study conducted in 1999 by the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Throwaway Children or NISMART, found that in over 70% of stranger kidnapping victims were taken from outdoor areas like parks and playgrounds, and 7% were taken from public buildings like shopping malls.
Of these cases, approximately 90% are committed by males who are between 20-40 years old.
In these cases, the child is returned alive less than 60% of the time. 4% are never found.
Most child abductions are perpetrated by family members. While the chances of a stranger abducting one’s child are slim, those who do get abducted by strangers are often sexually abused and killed. Many other children are detained or sexually assaulted by strangers, acquaintances or family members. Providing reasonable supervision to children and teaching kids to be safe
without subjecting them to paralyzing fear is the difficult task of parents.
© 2009 Lisa C. DeLuca