Why Children Go Missing?

When a child is missing from a safe environment the danger of exposure to high-risk activities such as substance misuse, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and even the risk of death, increases.

A missing child is defined as “any person under the age of 18 whose whereabouts are unknown,” by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children’s (ICMEC).

It’s important to understand the many reasons a child can go missing. ICMEC classifies missing children in these categories, which include but are not limited to:

  • Endangered Runaway: A child who is away from home without the permission of his or her parent(s) or legal guardian(s). The child may have voluntarily left home for a variety of reasons.
  • Family Abduction: The taking, retention, or concealment of a child or children by a parent, other family member, custodian, or his or her agent, in derogation of the custody rights, including visitation rights, of another parent or family member.
  • Non-family Abduction: The coerced and unauthorized taking of a child by someone other than a family member.
  • Lost, Injured, Or Otherwise Missing: A child who has disappeared under unknown circumstances. Facts are insufficient to determine the cause of a child’s disappearance.
  • Abandoned Or Unaccompanied Minor: A child who is not accompanied by an adult legally responsible for him or her, including those travelling alone without custodial permission, those separated by an emergency, those in a refugee situation, and those who have been abandoned or otherwise left without any adult care.

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