250 000 children are reported missing in the EU every year. That's 1 every 2 minutes. Missing Children Europe is committed to enabling effective child protection systems to prevent, protect and empower children who go missing. As an umbrella organisation with 31 member NGOs across the EU, we seek to support the most vulnerable groups of children, the ones who disappear.
The 3 largest groups of missing children reports are of Runaways, Parental Abductions and Missing Unaccompanied Migrant Children.
Runaways are children who often run from situations of conflict, neglect and abuse at home or from the care institutions they are placed in. Once on the street, 1 in 6 are assumed to rough sleep on the run, 1 in 8 resort to stealing to survive and 1 in 12 children are at serious risk of some form of abuse.
Parental Abductions involve the illegal abduction of a child by a parent or caregiver. While this type of abduction may not seem as serious, it poses several complicated effects. Even if done in the best interest of the child, it may lead to parental alienation, insecurity, confusion, stress, anger for the child which may have long term consequences.
In 2015, almost 90 000 asylum seekers in the European Union were unaccompanied children under 18, an increase of ninefold since 2012. This number does not include unaccompanied children who did not apply for asylum, and inconsistent data management prevents us from knowing exactly how many children arrive in Europe. Some types of threats faced by unaccompanied children include sexual exploitation in terms of pornography, prostitution and the internet; economic exploitation including forced donation of organs; criminal exploitation including drug smuggling and child trafficking including forced marriage and begging. Criminal networks are heavily involved with human trafficking to the EU and this includes also exploitation of children as manpower in the sex trade and other criminal activities.
Missing Children Europe's strategy for 2014-2017 focuses on these 3 vulnerable and often hidden groups of missing children. For more news on our mission and projects, check out our website, follow us on facebook and twitter.