When? 15 November 2022 

Where? Royal Library of Belgium, Bd de l’Empereur 4, 1000 Bruxelles and online (NEW!)


An estimated 250,000 children are reported missing in Europe each year. More than half of all children reported missing are children who “run away”, by which we mean children who felt forced to leave, or were pushed out of, their home or the institution they have been placed in. These numbers are not an accurate representation of the situation due to the high frequency of underreporting for this group of children. Actual numbers of children reported missing which we would consider to have “run away” are likely larger. 


Going missing is a potential indicator of adverse childhood experiences, including violence, neglect and abuse. Going missing is also a risk factor for further adverse experiences. Once on the streets, children face increasing risks to their safety and long-term well-being, such as substance abuse, criminality, and violence. Children with experience of running away may be at higher risk of early school leaving, substance abuse, and homelessness, all with potentially lifelong impact on their health and wellbeing. 


Unfortunately, these underlying circumstances, as well as potential consequences of an episode of missing too often remain under the radar. This, in part, because such disappearances are often defined as behavioral problems of the child or as attempts at seeking attention, which means the children involved may not be seen as at-risk. This type of discourse can lead to underreporting and to untimely responses by child protection systems. 


Missing Children Europe’s conference: Under the Radar “Towards More Integrated Child Protection Responses for Children who Run Away from Home or Care” will address running away as a cross-cutting child protection issue and demonstrate the link with childhood adversity. The conference will bring together researchers, frontline professionals, law enforcement officials, NGOs, national and EU decision-makers, and young people, to share knowledge and explore pathways to progress for practice and policy. 


The event is free of charge.