Child Abduction Numbers Unknown

Child abductions grab headlines like few other crimes can. But as worries about sexual predators mount, no one really knows whether the problem is growing.

There are no authoritative national statistics on kidnapping, and the last major federal study used data from 1999.

That report estimated that more than 58-thousand children are abducted annually. But the vast majority of those cases were brief incidents, stemming from situations such as domestic disputes, and not stereotypical kidnappings in which children are held for long periods, put up for ransom or killed. That number was estimated at less than 200.

One of the study's author's believes the number of stereotypical kidnappings may be declining, but he's dismayed at the lack of data.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says it's working with the Justice Department to develop a system for keeping track.