After defining a "stereotypical kidnapping of a child," this bulletin summarizes data on the incidence and characteristics of such kidnappings of children in 2011 and compares them with 1997 data.
A "stereotypical kidnapping of a child" is defined in this bulletin as an "abduction in which a slight acquaintance or stranger moves a child at least 20 feet or holds the child at least 1 hour, and in which the child is detained overnight, transported at least 50 miles, held for ransom, abducted with the intent to keep permanently, or killed." An estimated 105 children were victims of such kidnappings in 2011, which was virtually the same as in 1997. Most of these kidnappings involved the use of force or threats, and approximately three in five victims were sexually assaulted, abused, or exploited. Victims were most commonly white girls 12-17 years old who were living in situations other than with two biological or adoptive parents. Half of all these kidnappings in 2011 were sexually motivated and involved adolescent girls as victims. Most perpetrators of such kidnappings in 2011 were male, ages 18 - 35 who were white or Black in equal proportions. Approximately 70 percent were unemployed, and approximately half had drug- or alcohol-related problems. Fewer of the kidnappings ended in homicide in 2011 compared with 1997 (8 percent compared to 40 percent). In 2011, 92 percent of the child victims were recovered alive, compared with 57 percent of victims in 1997. Estimates of child victims being detained overnight in 2011 were three times the 1997 estimates (80 percent versus 26 percent). Technologies such as cell phones and the Internet assisted law enforcement in solving two-thirds of the cases. Researchers designed the NISMART-3 Law Enforcement Survey (LES-3) to measure the national incidence of stereotypical kidnappings that occurred between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2011. 5 tables and 7 references