Missing Children Europe is the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children 


Each year, well over 250 000 children slip through the net of child protection systems in Europe. Runaways, parental abductions and children who go missing in the context of migration make up to 81.5% of missing children cases in the EU, but awareness and child protection responses for these children still require a lot of support.

At Missing Children Europe, we believe that all children should be able to rely on effective and holistic systems of child protection, where all measures are taken to empower and protect them from any situation of harm. Our mission is to enable the development of these effective and holistic systems by creating the link between research, laws and professionals on the ground to prevent children from going missing, support them and their families, and better safeguard them from any risk of violence and abuse that may lead to or result from going missing.

We work at the European level because missing children cases are not confined by national borders and therefore require European support structures and policies. Indeed, data from 32 European hotlines dedicated to missing children reveal that 14% of cases are cross-border in nature. This is why Missing Children Europe connects 30 grassroots NGOs from 26 countries who work towards the prevention and protection of children who go missing. We support the development of effective cross-border solutions, awareness raising campaigns, cooperation channels and supportive legislation to tackle the most pressing and ever-evolving issues that led to child disappearance.

We believe that, together, we can create a safer Europe for children.

Learn more about our impact last year.



Parental abductions

When an international family conflict escalates, it can lead to a parental abduction. A parental abduction occurs when children are taken to or kept in a country other than that of their normal residence by a parent against the will of the other.

To prevent and resolve these abductions, Missing Children Europe coordinates the network of Cross-Border Family Mediators (CBFM). CBFM is a growing network of 193 trained, bi-cultural mediators that represent 40 countries. These mediators are trained to engage directly with parents to find a solution that reflects the specific family situation and boasts an 81% success rate.

Along with partners, we have recently wrapped up the Voice project, which focused on informing judges, legal professionals and mediators on how to assess the best interest of the child in international child abduction cases. The 2018 research revealed that children can feel frustrated, unheard, desperate or anxious in the aftermath of a parental abduction.


Missing children in migration

Tens of thousands of young newcomers escaping violence or poverty continue to go missing in Europe. Concern over the fate of these children relates to the increasing crossover between the smugglers who bring these children to Europe in risky an dangerous circumstances, and the traffickers who then force these children into sexual and labour exploitation as well as criminal and begging rings.

Since 2017, we have coordinated Amina, a multi-pronged, three year programme for the protection of children in migration that targets the children affected, the professionals working on the ground with these children, European citizens and policymakers. In addition, we have organised three editions of the Lost in Migration conferences, which bring together young newcomers, key stakeholders, on the ground response services and policymakers. Finally, the Initiative for Children in Migration advocates jointly with other migration, asylum and child protection actors for changes in E.U. law and policy for the protection for children in migration.

Runaways

The largest category (58.2%) of missing children are those who run away from or are pushed out of their home or the institution in which they have been placed.

An overwhelming amount of these children are running from situations of violence and/or abuse. LGBTQIA+ children and children living in institutions are disproportionately affected.

116 000 hotline for missing children

Missing Children Europe coordinates the network of missing children hotlines available through the 116 000 number. The hotline is currently active in 32 countries in Europe.

These essential hotlines provide free and immediate emotional, psychological, legal and administrative support to children and their families. They also provide a vital central contact and coordination point for cases that are cross-border.