Facts and figures


250,000 children are reported missing every year in the EU, 1 child every 2 minutes.

Despite this huge number, it is very hard to collect comprehensive data about why these children go missing and what happens when they do across countries in Europe. 

The absence of reliable data at European level must on no account allow for the problem to be underestimated. Missing Children Europe continues to overcome the challenge of data collection in 2 ways. Every year, Missing Children Europe conducts an annual data collection exercise that involves the network of missing children hotlines operated through the same number, 116 000 across 29 countries in Europe. The data helps us analyse and understand how many children go missing, how many are found, why they go missing and what can be done to prevent them from going missing. The second way Missing Children Europe is improving the collection of data is via a customised Client relationship and Data collection system used by these missing children hotlines . This system will allow for a coherent and systematic collection of comparable data that can then be used to research and better understand the problem and possible solutions to the issue of child disappearances. 

Find the comprehensive data report for missing children facts and figures for 2014 here.


Missing children 

250,000 children are reported missing every year in the European Union, 1 child every 2 minutes. - European Commission

Missing children include several types of child disappearances, including runaways, parental abductions, missing unaccompanied migrant children, criminal abductions and lost, injured or otherwise missing children. 

Only 1% of missing children cases reported involve third party criminal abductions. – Missing Children Europe Annual Report 2014 

Our network of missing children hotlines operated through the 116 000 number received 268,309 calls in 2014. – Missing Children Europe Annual Report 2014 

Runaways are 9 times likelier to contemplate suicide than other children. 

Runaways make up 51% of missing children cases reported to the 116 000 hotline. - Missing Children Europe Annual Report 2014 

1 in 6 runaways are assumed to sleep rough, 1 in 8 resort to stealing to survive and 1 in 12 children are at serious risk of some form of abuse. - The Children’s Society 

60% of the unaccompanied migrant children accommodated in UK social care centres go missing and are never found. - The British Asylum Screening Unit

23,000 unaccompanied children submitted an asylum application in the EU in 2014. 2,240 of them were less than 14 years old. - Eurostat



Up to half of the unaccompanied migrant children vanish yearly from reception centres in Belgium, France, Spain and Switzerland, mainly in the first 48 hours after their admission in the centres. - Terres des Hommes

Parental Abductions represent 37% of missing children cases reported on the 116 000 missing children hotlines. - Missing Children Europe Annual Report 2014 

During February 2016, in Hungary children disappeared at an estimated rate of 90-95%, after spending one to three days in reception institutions. In Slovenia, about 80% of children went missing. In Sweden, about 7-10 children are reported missing each week. In Austria, 100 children went missing from one reception centre. 

On January 1 2016, 4749 unaccompanied children are considered to be missing in Germany. 431 among them are younger than 13-years-old, 4,287 between 14 and 17-years-old and 31 aged 18. On July 1, 2015 the number of missing unaccompanied refugees was 1,637 - German Federal Criminal Police (BKA)

Sexual exploitation and abuse

The sexual exploitation and abuse of children comprise at least the following categories: sexual abuse or assault, child prostitution, child pornography, child trafficking for sexual purposes and grooming (solicitation of children). 

1 in 5 children in Europe are victims of some form of sexual violence. In 70% to 85% of cases, the abuser is somebody the child knows and trusts. – Council of Europe 

Out of the 800.000 people trafficked annually across national borders in the world, up to 50% are children. – CIA 

2 million children are trafficked in Europe every year. – UNICEF, 2007 

75% of child sexual abuse material found online by the Internet Watch Foundation were of female victims – Internet Watch Foundation 

39% of child abuse images, the possession of which led to arrests in the US in 2000 & 2001, concerned children between ages 3-5, 19% concerned children below 3. - National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children


81% of child victims identified in child sexual abuse were 10 years or younger. - Internet Watch Foundation 

In 2007, there was a 16.4% rise in child abuse images reports processed by the Internet Watch Foundation hotline in the UK compared to the same period in 2006. - Internet Watch Foundation

While victims are increasingly younger, the abuse is proving to become increasingly more violent. - Internet Watch Foundation