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Child abductions by strangers rare in Canada

Jan 21, 2017

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Child abductions by strangers rarely happen in Canada, but exactly how rare is harder to determine.

Police statistics show 25 children of the 46,718 reported missing in 2011 listed as “abducted by stranger.”

However, the definition of stranger for these numbers includes anyone who is not a parent. In other words it could be a relative, a friend of the family, a babysitter or someone unknown to the family or victim.

A 2003 study tried to break down those numbers. Marlene Dalley and Jenna Ruscoe, then with the RCMP’s National Missing Children Services, studied the 90 stranger abduction missing child reports that had been entered into the national police database in 2000 and 2001. They found just two of those children had been abducted by someone other than a relative or a close family friend.

A search of their own department’s Missing Children Registry found an additional three cases. But of those five cases, in the end it turned out that in four of the cases the abductor was known to the family.

According to the report, four of the five children were killed and “it was estimated by the investigating officers that the four victims were killed within the first 24 hours.”

In the 2011 statistics, 63 per cent of the missing children and youth reports were over within 24 hours and 86 per cent within a week. In any year the vast majority of the reports turn out to be runaways.

Then there are cases where police are still trying to find out what happened to the missing children. That was the case in Cleveland for Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina deJesus until late Monday afternoon.

“It’s not unique to Cleveland, this happens in Canada,” Amanda Pick, executive director of the Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC) told CBC News. Pick explained that for the families she works with, “there are days when you feel hopeless,” you think your child is no longer alive.

“Then you will have a day like today, where the unbelievable experience of locating those three women, that gives our families hope that their children are still there,” Pick said on Tuesday.

Pick and the MCSC referred CBC News to four of their cases that have been open for years, in which the missing young women were around the age of the three Cleveland women when they were abducted.


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