Endangered Runaways
Skip to main content

Overview

NCMEC defines an Endangered Runaway as a child under the age of 18 who is missing on his or her own accord and whose whereabouts are unknown to their parent or legal guardian. These children are highly vulnerable and can experience homelessness when they are missing. According to a recent report from Chapin Hall,1 in 30 adolescent minors ages 13 to 17 endures some form of homelessness in a year.

Risk Factors

The risk factors for running away from home or state care are multifaceted, and there is no typical Endangered Runaway.

The following factors may put youth at an increased risk of running away or becoming homeless:

  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Family conflict
  • Lack of acceptance of gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Struggling to manage mental health
  • Substance abuse
  • Medical issue/developmental or physical disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Online enticement
  • To be with a friend, romantic partner, or biological family
  • Gang activity
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Social rejection or bullying

By the Numbers

In 2020, of the nearly 30,000 reports of missing children that NCMEC received,
91%
were Endangered Runaways.

77%
of Endangered Runaways reported to NCMEC were between 15-17 years old.

87%
of these missing children had at least one reported risk factor and
62%
had two or more risk factors.

To search for a missing child and view posters of those missing in your area, click here.

What NCMEC is Doing About it

NCMEC Partnerships

NCMEC partners with a variety of organizations that share our commitment to helping families and young people stay safe. 

NCMEC is proud to partner with the National Runaway Safeline. We encourage local communities to implement their evidence-based Let's Talk: Runaway Prevention Curriculum.

Supporting Victims and Families

For families with a missing or sexually exploited child, NCMEC provides support services like crisis intervention and local counseling referrals to appropriate professionals. Our Team HOPE program connects families with peers who have had similar experiences and can offer coping skills and compassion. When a missing child is recovered, we help families with the reunification process, including mental health services and travel assistance.

Raising Public Awareness to Help Bring Them Home

With help from our private-sector photo partners, we coordinate the creation and dissemination of missing child posters to targeted geographic areas to help generate leads and engage the public in the search.

The public can also help in the recovery efforts by signing up in The ADAM Program to receive missing child alerts in their area. 

Runaway Train 25

Twenty-five years ago, the song "Runaway Train" featured missing children in its music video and helped close 21 cases! For the 25th anniversary of the song, we reimagined "Runaway Train" with new artists and a dynamic music video that updates itself with missing children from the NCMEC database based on a user's location. That means more missing children in front of more people in more relevant places.

Watch #RunawayTrain25 and help us bring home #Missingkids.

RunawayTrain25.com

Resources

Analysis of Cases Involving Missing Children with Suicidal Tendencies