In Kansas City, a ten month old female infant was kidnapped from her home in the middle of the night. Apparently, a stranger entered the house, took the baby from her crib and left. The disappearance was not noticed until 4am when her dad returned home from work.
I was interviewed on the local news last night regarding this tragic event. One of the first questions I was asked focused on the rarity of this type of kidnapping. Statistics show that they are indeed rare. An FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin states, “According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), every year, more than 200,000 children are abducted by family members. An additional 58,000 are taken by non-relatives with primarily sexual motives. However, only 115 reported abductions represent cases in which strangers abduct and kill children, hold them for ransom, or take them with the intention to keep.”
The low number of occurrences alleviate our fears of wide spread abductions, yet it rarely helps soothe the nerves of the family and all those involved. While nothing but the return of their child can be considered good news, there is reason to be hopeful.
NCMEC also reports that since 1983, there have been 278 reported incidents of infant abductions. Of the 278 incidents, the child was recovered in 266 of them; unfortunately, 12 remain unsolved. As law enforcement becomes more experienced at handling these matters, the success rate of infants being recovered increases.
Infant abductions are different than other child abductions. Studies of infant abductions reflect that the overwhelming majority of occurrences are perpetrated by females of childbearing age. The offender frequently lost a baby or is incapable of having one. The offender is responding to a traumatic event. Even though the response is irrational, the offender does not intend to harm the infant.
The abduction is often planned. While not targeting that infant specifically, the opportunity existed and was exploited. Usually, the offender also lives in the neighborhood. Accordingly, the offender being acquainted with the family in some capacity is highly likely. Given these factors, the police are equipped to generate leads, track down the offender and return the infant to the parents.
One statistic that is offered up is that the majority of kidnapped children are killed within the first few hours. THAT IS NOT CORRECT. Studies have shown that when the kidnapping results in murder, the murder usually occurred within the first few hours. This does not mean that child kidnapping usually ends in murder.
While discussing child kidnapping and murders, any statistics of occurrences are upsetting and do nothing to assuage the fears while a child is missing. But knowing the true facts is important as it reflects that there are reasons to be hopeful that this infant will be found and returned to her parents. As of this writing, Baby Lisa remains missing. Let’s stay hopeful.