Does a US child go missing every 90 seconds?

BBC News, By Hannah Moore, April 21

When there’s a news report of a child going missing it’s easy to jump to the worst conclusions, but sometimes the reality is not quite so alarming. It’s a similar story with one widely used statistic about missing children in the US – it is not quite what it may seem.

A television news channel in Washington DC recently launched a safety awareness campaign using the hashtag #every90seconds, claiming that one child goes missing in the US, on average, every one-and-a-half minutes.

It’s a figure that’s been widely quoted in US media over the past few years, often for the best of reasons, as in this case. It sounds worrying, because you might reasonably assume it refers to kidnappings, or children in real danger.


“The number of kids who are actually kidnapped by strangers is quite small,” says Finkelhor.

Just 115 of the 797,500 children were subject to what Finkelhor and his co-authors define as a “stereotypical” kidnapping – that is, they were abducted by a stranger and detained overnight, perhaps permanently, or taken at least 50 miles away.

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