We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.

Investigating Potential Child Abduction Cases

April 2001 National:

A Developmental Perspective

The concern that people share for the welfare of their own children, as well as for the children of others, illustrates the fundamental value children hold in society. Few relationships are as powerful or emotional as those between adults and children. Parents, families, neighborhoods, and communities strive continually to create programs and practices that provide their children with healthy, secure environments where they can thrive and grow.

Due to their physical, emotional, and cognitive dependence on adults, however, children remain uniquely susceptible to abuse, neglect, and exploitation, which make them vulnerable as victims for a variety of differing offenders who abuse and exploit them for such reasons as sex, revenge, and profit. Occasionally, this maltreatment results in missing children.

The value people place on children makes missing child incidents among the most widely publicized cases encountered by law enforcement. The reported abduction or mysterious disappearance of a child captivates families, neighborhoods, communities, and entire nations.

In the 1980s, several highly publicized stranger-perpetrated child abduction cases heightened public and parental concerns and fears and led to the widespread belief that stranger abductions had become increasingly common. This awareness caused parental groups, civic organizations, political representatives, and government agencies to support programs focusing on missing children.


While public fears and perceptions focused on stereotypical stranger abduction, in which an older adult male from outside the community preyed randomly upon an unsuspecting child for sexual gratification, initial research findings painted a different picture. Studies found that abductions by family members represented the most prevalent child abduction type, ranging from 163,200 to 354,100 cases annually. [1] In contrast, the national incidence of child abductions perpetrated by nonfamily members ranged from 3,200 to 4,600 cases annually, with only 62 percent of these cases committed by strangers. [2] Additionally, long-term stranger abductions, where serious risk of victim mortality existed, only accounted for between 200 to 300 cases annually.

These statistics included children ranging in age from birth to 18 years and, therefore, displayed diverse victim characteristics and vulnerabilities. Stranger abductions, although a serious and potentially lethal problem, did not appear as widespread as experts believed originally. More recent child abduction and child homicide research generally supports these findings. ..Continued.. by Dr. Lord serves with the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group at the FBI Academy. Dr. Boudreaux is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of California in Los Angeles. Mr. Lanning recently retired from the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group at the FBI Academy.

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