Missing person

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A missing person is a person who has disappeared and nobody seems to know where they are. While criminal abductions are some of the most widely reported missing person cases, these account for only 2–5% of missing children in Europe.

Reasons[change | change source]

People disappear for many reasons. Some individuals choose to disappear alone. Reasons for someone disappearing on their own include:

  • Running away from home, often to escape from domestic abuse.
  • Mental illness or other ailments. For example, a person with Alzheimer's Disease may wander out on their own, forgetting where they live, the identity of family members or relatives, or even their own names.
  • Hiding from the police or courts. (See also failure to appear.)
  • Suicide in a location where they cannot be easily found.
  • Joining a cult or other religious organization that stops them from talking to people in the outside world.
  • To escape poverty, famine or natural disaster.
  • To avoid war or persecution during a genocide.

Other reasons are:

  • Staying too long with a parent or guardian that they do not normally live with.
  • Kidnapping
  • Death by natural causes or in accident in a place where they cannot easily be found, such as in water.
  • Getting sold into slavery.
  • Murder, if the body is not found.
  • In some countries, governments have carried out secret murders (known as forced disappearances).

Most missing person cases that are reported to the police are simple cases, where the person is found quickly. In 1999, 800,000 children went missing in the United States, but only 115 cases were kidnapped by a stranger who wanted to keep them for a long period of time.[1][2]

A small number of missing person cases are not solved for many years. These cases can be painful for friends and families, because they cannot be sure what happened to the person. In most countries, the law says that if someone has been missing for many years, the government can declare that the person is dead. This is known as "declaring death in absentia".

Other websites[change | change source]

  1. Sedlack, Andrea J. (2002). "National Estimates of Missing Children: An Overview". NISMART Series Bulletin: 7, 10. http://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=ccrc. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  2. Beam, Christopher (17 January 2007). "800,000 Missing Kids? Really?". Slate. Retrieved 25 December 2017.