Kidnapping is a terrifying experience that can happen to anyone, anywhere. In the US, around 2,300 children go missing daily, making kidnapping an alarming form of disappearance.

Kidnapping rates vary across states, including those of strangers and familial kidnappings. Motives range from criminal intent to political reasons or personal vendettas. 

That said, protecting your family and loved ones is of utmost importance. In this article, you'll learn:

  • Abduction rates
  • Human trafficking severity
  • High-risk demographics
  • Emerging trends in social media kidnapping

Let's dive in!

Editor's Pick 

  • NCIC entries for missing children totaled 359,094
  • Globally, around 8 million kids disappear each year.
  • Family kidnapping accounts for 49% of child kidnappings.
  • New Mexico ranked first for kidnapping in the US. 
  • Over 250,000 children went missing in Europe
  • Teenagers (12 years or older) accounted for 81% of kidnapping victims
  • 16,554 Americans were reported to be victims of human trafficking.
  • Family members/caregivers accounted for 33% of human trafficking recruiters. 
  • The most common type of human trafficking is sexual exploitation (92%).
  • 70% of kids in the US would accept a 'friend request' regardless of the sender.

How Many People Are Kidnapped? 

The reported total number of missing persons in the US was 521,705. The number of missing persons under 21 was 358,059 (68.71%).  

In 2020, there were 4,471 people kidnapped due to terrorism. This number doubled from the 2019 incident of 2,895. 2016 showed the most number of terrorist kidnappings, with 15,664 cases. 

For more shocking kidnapping statistics, continue reading.'

Kidnapping Demographic Statistics 

Kidnapping is the illegal detention or transportation of a person against their will. In January 2023, 555 people across 42 states were missing, of which 284 cases were closed. 12% of the victims, however, were found dead.

This crime has serious physical and psychological effects on the victim's family. Child kidnapping, which targets the most vulnerable, is particularly alarming. Kidnapping can happen to adults too! 

To comprehend the magnitude of this issue on a global scale, let's examine the following kidnapping demographics:

1. NCIC entries for missing children totaled 359,094. 


In 2022, the FBI reported 359,094 NCIC entries for missing children in the US. This number increased by 6.49% from 337,195 missing child entries in 2021. 

The same year, NCIC assisted law enforcement, families, and child welfare with 27,644 missing child cases. Of these, 1337 were family and nonfamily abductions. 

2. 99% of juvenile kidnapping cases were found alive. 


Out of 555 US missing persons reports in January 2023, 133 juvenile cases were archived. 99% of kidnapped juveniles survived and were alive. In the case of adults, 22% of the cases were found dead.

3. Stranger abductions made up about .35% of missing child cases. 


In 2022, stranger abductions comprised about .35% of missing child cases. Most missing children were runaways (91.68%), and 1 of 6 were likely victims of child sex trafficking. 

4. Globally, around 8 million kids disappear each year.

(Safe at Last)

Eight million children worldwide are forcibly taken or illegally transported each year. In the US alone, 800,000 children reportedly go missing annually.

5. Family kidnapping accounts for 49% of child kidnappings.

(Child Watch)

Family kidnapping accounts for 49% of all child kidnapping cases. It's mostly committed by parents and experienced by kids under six.

The other two frequently occurring types of child kidnapping are: 

  • Kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim (27%)
  • Stranger kidnapping (24%)

6. 115 children were victims of stereotypical kidnapping. 


The US Department of Justice reported 115 cases of children as victims of "stereotypical" kidnapping. This crime involves a stranger or acquaintance holding the child under any of the following conditions: 

  • Keeping the child overnight or at least one hour
  • Intends to keep the child permanently
  • Transports the child 50 miles or more
  • Demands a ransom
  • Kills the child

7. Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 37% of kidnapping cases. 

(Control Risks)

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest kidnapping rates, accounting for 37% of all cases. The Americas region follows behind, with a 32% share of global kidnapping cases.

In contrast, Europe and the CIS region have the lowest kidnapping rates, accounting for only 1% of all cases. 

8. Turkey has the highest kidnapping rate worldwide at 42.669 per 100,000.

(World Population Review)

Kidnapping contributes to a nation's violent ranking. The report reveals that Turkey has 42.669 kidnapping cases per 100,000 residents.

The ten countries with the highest kidnapping rates are: 


Kidnapping Rate 











South Africa 


New Zealand 






United Kingdom 


9. New Mexico ranked first for kidnapping in the US. 

(KRQE News)

In 2021, law enforcement in New Mexico reported 822 cases of kidnapping and abduction. The kidnapping rate in New Mexico was 1.27 per 1,000 residents.

However, it's important to note that New Mexico's definition of kidnapping is broad. It includes holding someone against their will using force or intimidation. As a result, this may contribute to the high number of reported cases.

10. Teenagers (aged 12 or older) accounted for 81% of kidnapping victims.


Nonfamily and stereotypical kidnappings of 12-year-olds or older were the most common in missing child cases. Targeted prevention, personal safety education, and open communication are essential to addressing teens' risks and challenges. 

11. The recovery rate was 97% for high-risk kidnapping cases. 

(Just Great Lawyers)

In the US, the recovery rate for high-risk kidnappings in 2011 was 97%, up from 62% in 1990. Moreover, only one out of 10,000 cases of missing children reported to the police is found dead. It emphasizes the need for swift action, collaboration, and resources to return victims safely. 

Human Trafficking Statistics 

Human trafficking can affect anyone, but some are more vulnerable. Risk factors include:

  • Substance use
  • Mental health problems
  • Recent migration or relocation
  • Being a runaway or homeless youth
  • Involvement with the child welfare system

These factors increase susceptibility and make people more appealing to traffickers. In 2021, the US Human Trafficking Hotline received 10,359 reports of human trafficking.

However, this number barely touches the issue's scope. Here are the other most notable statistics on human trafficking: 

12. 16,554 Americans were reported to be victims of human trafficking.

(Polaris Project)

Human trafficking victims in the US totaled 16,554 in 2021. The most common types of trafficking were: 

  • Escort services (10%)
  • Pornography (8%
  • Illicit massage, health, and beauty (6%)

13. Family members and caregivers accounted for 33% of human trafficking recruiters. 

(Polaris Project)

Human trafficking occurs closer to home than you think. In 2021, family or caregivers were responsible for 33% of human trafficking recruitment, followed by intimate partners (28%) and employers (22%). 

14. Internet dating sites topped the list of recruitment locations for human trafficking. 

(Polaris Project)

The top three recruitment locations for human trafficking were internet dating sites at 13%, the street at 11%, and Facebook at 10%.

Teens post a lot online, so offenders use this to fake romantic interests or better life prospects. They groom, deceive, and meet their victims.

15. Females account for 65% of victims of human trafficking in the US. 

(Polaris Project)

In 2021, the majority (65%) of human trafficking victims in the US were women, with sex labor being the top form of human trafficking.

Men are often victims of forced labor trafficking, at 48% in 2021. The number of cases has increased from the 2020 data of 1,318 to 1,814.

16. Recent migration and relocation were the major risk factors for human trafficking.

(Polaris Project, United Nations)

Conflict, emergencies, and poverty can force unsafe migration. This exposes migrants to exploitation and trafficking. 

Sites of vulnerability include private residences, border crossings, irregular migration routes, and conflict zones. In 2021, these were the top risk factors: 

  • Recent migration/relocation (54%)
  • Substance use concerns (9%)
  • Unstable housing (8%)
  • Mental health concerns (7%)
  • Runaway/homeless youth (7%)

17. Job offers accounted for 31% of human trafficking recruitment tactics.

(Polaris Project)

With 4,756 known cases, job advertisements constituted 31% of human trafficking recruitment tactics. Familial and intimate partner/marriage propositions accounted for 28% and 24%, respectively. 

18. The number of people prosecuted for human trafficking in the US increased by 84% in 2020.


Between 2011 and 2020, the number of people prosecuted for human trafficking in the US increased by 84%. In 2011, there were 729 cases, leading to the prosecution of 1,343 individuals. 

19. Children account for 27% of all human trafficking victims worldwide.

(Save the Children)

Child trafficking involves exploiting girls and boys for forced labor or sex. 27% of global human trafficking victims are children; 2 out of 3 are girls. Usually, family or friends try to sell them by making false promises of education and a better life.

20. Most males (92%) were charged with human trafficking in the US district court. 


Of the 1,169 defendants charged in US district courts with human trafficking offenses, 92% were male, 63% were white, and 95% were US citizens. Additionally, 66% of the defendants had no prior convictions.

21. The most common type of human trafficking is sexual exploitation (92%).


Sexual exploitation accounts for 92% of human trafficking. Most victims are women and girls. Surprisingly, women also comprise a significant proportion of traffickers. In some regions, the trend observed is women trafficking other women. 

22. 49.6 million victims trapped in modern-day slavery. 

(Stop the Traffic)

Given the hidden nature of human trafficking, it's hard to grasp its scope. There are an estimated 49.6 million victims trapped in modern slavery. Of this, the following made up the number: 

  • 27.6 million are exploited for labor
  • 7.3 million are in forced marriages
  • 2% of all those in forced labor are children

32.2 million victims are 18 or older (75%), while 10.1 million are children (25%). What's even more terrifying? 37% of forced marriage victims and 21% of sexual exploitation victims are also children.

Social Media Kidnapping Statistics 

Social media is now part of our daily lives. Unfortunately, criminals also use it to plan and carry out kidnappings. 

An estimated 500,000 predators actively use social media to prey on their victims. 20% of children who use social media have reported falling victim to online predators.

To avoid social kidnappings, be cautious online and watch out for strangers. Below are your essential statistics for understanding social media kidnappings:

23. One in three children is an Internet user.


1 in 3 children use the internet, most of whom use mobile phones. Social media kidnapping is especially dangerous for children, who comprise one-third of internet users. 

24. In 2021, the NCMEC Cybertipline received a total of 29.3 million reports. 


Online child sexual abuse and exploitation reports increased by 35% in 2021 compared to 2020. The National Center for Missing or Exploited Children has the CyberTipline, where children can report online threats. 

25. Most digital kidnappers are female.

(Protect Young Eyes)

Research has shown that women comprise many digital and online kidnapping subcultures. They participate in virtual motherhood games and adoption agencies.

It's important to note that some offenders fixate on children's nudity or breastfeeding. Disturbingly, some have used Instagram photos of children for sexual role-play.

26. By age two, 92% of American children already have an online presence.


Most children in the US have their information, photos, and other content posted online by their parents or guardians. It could be on social media, personal blogs, or other websites.

It may seem harmless, but young children having an online presence can lead to privacy issues, cyber bullying, kidnapping, and identity theft.

27. 70% of kids in the US would accept a 'friend request' regardless of the sender. 

(New York Post)

The FBI's warning about online child predators revealed that 70% of kids are likely to accept friend requests from anyone. It raises concern as 65% of sexual offenders use social media to research their victims.

Similarly, 56% of teens receive personal information requests online, and 27% discuss sex with strangers. 43% of those who meet someone online meet them in person.

28. 56% of parents share sensitive information about their children online.

(Mott Poll Report)

Sharing sensitive information about their children online can lead to digital kidnapping. It's a form of identity theft that involves a stranger stealing a child's photo online and posting it as their own.

29. 1 in 5 agencies started using Facebook to locate missing children. 

(The Guardian)

Since 2012, one in five US agencies has used social media to find missing children. By 2018, over 43,000 missing child cases had been posted on social media. Social media's vast reach and ability to share information quickly have made finding missing children easy.

30.There were 29.3 million reports of potential online child sexual exploitation in 2021.


NCMEC's Cybertipline received 29.3 million suspected child sexual exploitation reports worldwide. This was a 35% increase from 2020, with 21.7 million online reports of suspected child sexual exploitation. 

The Bottom Line 

Kidnapping is a serious global crime that affects not only children but even adults. It can take many forms, from traditional kidnapping to social media and human trafficking. Individuals, families, and authorities must know the risks and take preventative and reactive measures.z