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Non-family Abductions & Attempts

an empty swing set


NCMEC receives reports of missing children that fall into one of five case types, including nonfamily abductions. A nonfamily abduction occurs when a child is taken by someone known, but not related, to the child, such as a neighbor or an online acquaintance, or by someone unknown to the child. Nonfamily abductions are the rarest type of case and make up only 1% of the missing children cases reported to NCMEC. 

Risk Factors

NCMEC collects information concerning attempted abductions of children by individuals unknown to the child.  Based on over ten years of data, NCMEC identified that:

  • Attempted abductions occur more often when a child is going to or from school or school-related activities  
  • School-age children are at greatest risk on school days before and after school (7-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.) and after dinner time (6-7 p.m.)
  • Attempted abductions most often occur on the street while children are playing, walking, or riding bikes
  • Younger children are more likely to be playing or walking with a parent or an adult whereas school-age children are more likely to be walking alone or with peers. 
  • Attempted abductions of older children are more likely to involve a sexual component.

Children evaded abduction in a variety of ways, including:

  • Ignoring or refusing the abductor
  • Using a cellphone to threaten or intervene
  • Fighting back
  • Screaming and/or making noise
  • Another adult or child intervened
  • Abductor left the area or voluntarily released the child
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Analysis of Nonfamily Abductions Reported to NCMEC 2016-2020

Published on Oct, 2022 

A 10-Year Analysis of Attempted Abductions and Related Incidents

By the Numbers

600 +

attempted abductions were documented by NCMEC in 2020.

In an analysis of attempted abductions, the most common lures used in attempts were:

  • Offering the child a ride
  • Offering the child candy or sweets
  • Asking the child questions
  • Offering the child money
  • Using an animal to interest the child

What NCMEC is Doing About it

Preventing Abduction Through Education

NCMEC, in partnership with Honeywell, created the KidSmartz Personal Safety Program, a program that educates families about preventing abduction and empowers children in grades K-5 to practice safer behaviors. The program teaches “The 4 Rules of Personal Safety”: using fun and engaging videos and activities.

Learn more about NCMEC’s Education and Prevention Resources.

The 4 Rules of Personal Safety

  • Check first
  • Take a friend
  • Tell people ‘No’
  • Tell a trusted adult

Learning from the Past

NCMEC’s Code Adam Program, created in memory of 6-year-old Adam Walsh who was abducted from a Florida department store, is now one of the largest child safety protocols being implemented in tens of thousands of establishments across the nation, providing critical guidance to employees on how to handle reports of missing children on the premises. 

Helping Recover Missing Children

Team Adam is a specialized unit made up of former and retired law enforcement professionals which can be deployed directly to the scene of a child’s disappearance to offer assistance to investigators and families in cases of critically missing children and long-term missing child cases.

The ADAM Program quickly distributes missing child posters to police, news media, schools, businesses, medical centers and other recipients within a specific geographic search areas. The public can also help by signing up to receive missing child alerts in their area.