Studies & Statistics

Studies & Statistics



Every two minutes, a child is reported missing in Europe.

Missing Children Europe compiles call statistics from 22 "116 000 hotlines", including ours in Switzerland.

It records in 2021 no fewer than 54 655 calls concerning cases of missing children, including 13% from previous years.

  • 57% of these cases concern runaways.
  • 26% are parental abduction cases.
  • 6% are related to the phenomenon of child migration.
  • 2% represent lost or injured children
  • 8% are disappearances of other types.

It should be noted that only a small proportion of the cases processed (1%) concerned kidnappings of criminal origin.


Children are reported missing every year in Europe

Missing Children Europe compiles call statistics from 22 hotlines, including ours. In Switzerland, we estimate at 25,000 runaways per year. We would like to obtain official statistics from our country.


Of children reported missing in 2020 were found by the police

This figure comes from the 116 000 hotlines, which worked in collaboration with investigators from 19 European countries. While 38% came back on their own, 20% were found by a third party and 9% some other way.


Children went missing in 2020 due to violence, abuse or neglect

This figure concerns 10 countries. There is a clear link between children facing violence and abuse and children fleeing, often repeatedly, to situations that only increase their vulnerability.


How many children are reported missing each year in Switzerland? Unfortunately, this central question remains unanswered.

Switzerland is lagging behind in the collection of data on vulnerable minors.

"No data, no problem!" One might not think so, but the daily reality of Missing Children Switzerland and the latest disappearances of children have shown that our country is not immune to this phenomenon. In addition, our system in this area is deficient, such as the Kidnapping Alert, which has never been triggered.

The lack of determination on the part of the Swiss authorities and the particularity of the federal system mean that we still do not have official statistics on the disappearance of minors in Switzerland.

As a result we are work tirelessly to obtain these figures. Both the authorities and the inhabitants must realise that Switzerland is not immune to the problem of missing children.

Without the support of official statistics, this phenomenon remains invisible.



The collection of data from cantonal police forces on missing minors is carried out by the federal police (Fedpol). We are trying to raise their awareness and work with them to obtain a more complete picture of the phenomenon, particularly through the standardisation of the headings for which the figures are currently being collected.

Concerning runaway minors, we currently estimate the number of cases at around 25,000 per year, while for parental abductions, we record more than 100 cases annually.

Nevertheless, we are actively working on configuring an explicit statistical model, which will set a precise framework around disappearance classifications. Today, anyone can interpret runaway events as they see fit.

Studies carried out in Switzerland:

"Fugue : rite de passage ou cri d’alarme ?" (Fondation Sarah Oberson, 2012)

Projet de recherche sur la faisabilité d’une étude sur les disparitions de mineurs dans le canton de Vaud (UNIL, 2013)

Le plan « Alerte enlèvement » suisse en comparaison internationale (UNIL, 2013)

"Au seuil du deuil? Les familles d’enfants disparus à l’épreuve de l’incertitude" (Fondation Sarah Oberson, 2013)

"Séparation des parents, disparition des enfants: Working Report" (Fondation Sarah Oberson, 2014)

Fugues en sol valaisan: phénomène mineur" (HES-SO Valais, 2017)

Statistique 2010-2020: Enlèvement international d’enfants et protection du droit de visite (Office fédéral de la justice)

The World

The World

The lack of official studies and the time required to define a common framework on disappearance make it more difficult to read the figures, which show the extent of this phenomenon on a global scale.

These figures are also to be taken with some caution since in many countries, statistics can be somewhat imprecise.

Unrecorded/unrecognised cases, over- or under-evaluation or cases deleted once closed are also open to question.

Here is some information we were able to find:

In France, 53,439 minors were reported missing in 2018 (one report every ten minutes).

In Germany, nearly 100,000 children are reported missing each year.

In the United States, approximately 460,000 children are reported missing each year.

In Spain, nearly 20,000 children are reported missing every year.

In Canada, approximately 45,288 children are reported missing each year.

In Russia, nearly 45,000 children were reported missing in 2015.

In the United Kingdom, approximately 112,853 children are reported missing each year.

In India, nearly 96,000 children disappear each year.

In Jamaica, approximately 1,984 children were reported missing in 2015.