Gateway Gazette

Just the Facts — Missing and Abducted Children

RCMP

Children go missing or are abducted for a variety of reasons but the heartache and pain such an event causes is universal. Read about the latest facts and ways to protect your children. Watch the video below.

In Canada

  • The first national statistics on missing children were released in 1987, when more than 57,000 cases were reported. In 2019, there were 40,425 accounts of missing children.
  • Runaways in 2019 represented a majority of all missing children reports at almost 30,000.
  • A total of 122 of those missing children reports were for a parental abduction, while 16 were related to a stranger abduction.
  • About 58 per cent of all missing children or young people involve females. Also, 62 per cent of missing children or youth cases were closed within 24 hours, while 92 per cent were closed within a week.
  • Between 2013 and February 2020, Canada issued 56 Amber Alerts involving 74 abducted children. Of those, 67 were recovered and returned safely.
  • Of all missing persons reported in a given year, about 500 remain missing after one year. Missing children make up about nine per cent of that 500.

The dangers

  • When young people run away, their risk of being victimized increases. The dangers may include sexual assault, violence, theft, substance abuse involving drugs and alcohol, homelessness and gang involvement.
  • While most parental child abductions are resolved, they remain traumatic events that can have lifelong effects on the young people involved. Many of these children are traumatized and forced to live like fugitives while living in poverty.
  • The abduction of a child by a stranger is rare. But an individual may seize a child for a sexual purpose, to cause harm to a child or the child’s family, because of mental health problems or for financial motives.

How to take action

  • If your loved one disappears or is abducted, you should call the police or 911 immediately.
  • In Canada, there is no minimum period of time required before reporting your child missing.
  • If you believe your child has been taken out of the country, you should ask the police to contact the RCMP’s National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains.
  • It’s important to have regular conversations with children about their safety.
  • For very young children, introduce the buddy system. For those a little older, encourage them to leave situations where they feel uncomfortable or in danger.
  • Tell your children to get permission before going anywhere so you know where they are and when they will return home.
  • Warning signs your child is thinking of running away include accumulating money, talking about running away and substance abuse.
  • Prevention strategies include communicating with your child, getting to know your child’s friends and social network, talking to your child about the dangers of running away and telling your child you love them.

Related links

RCMP works to reunite abducted children with families

Canada’s Missing

Video: Missing and abducted children

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