Child Abduction 101: Difference between Kidnapping and Abduction 

Difference btwn Kidnapping and Abduction -Making Sense of Security

How to Protect Your Children from Being Kidnapped or Abduction 

Every parent wants to do everything they can to prevent their child from being kidnapped or abducted. But what’s the difference between the two? 

Most people think that kidnapping and abduction are one and the same, but there is actually a big difference between the two. 

Kidnapping is defined as taking a person against their will, with the intent to hold them for ransom or to commit a crime. Kidnapping is when someone takes a person against their will and holds them in a secret location, usually with the intent to ransom or harm them. 

Abduction, on the other hand, is when someone takes a person away from their everyday surroundings without their consent. Abduction is taking a person against their will without monetary gain or criminal intent. 

While both are serious crimes, kidnapping is often seen as more severe because it involves an additional element of threat or violence.

In both cases, the victim is forced to go somewhere against their will, but abduction does not necessarily involve taking the victim to a hidden location.

As a result, preventative measures for abduction may not be as effective in preventing kidnapping.

The best way to protect your child from both kidnapping and abduction is to provide constant supervision and be aware of your surroundings at all times. 

c io6CYA3fyhRxKsTvbMsfMOj7PLf5z9hk7RX2mtM1 4 XEcCpqtYirk0jONZU22p22khdR9CQ5DTJO 6KRDY4mmsYXvmlrY4qYicv5VNSfGb0DfkNr4Bs Crm U1dNfzB1OnTqD

We don’t intend to frighten you, but if you’re a parent, it can be downright scary out there. Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child goes missing — and some are victims of child abduction by strangers.

Think back to the first time you read a headline regarding the child abduction rate in your state. Like most parents, you probably asked yourself, “How do I protect my child from kidnapping?”

We don’t blame you. Child abduction prevention is something parents constantly think about. But with a keen understanding of abduction vs. kidnapping, simple things you can tell your teens to make them aware, and tools you can use right now to keep your loved ones safe, you’ll gain a little extra peace of mind.

Abduction vs Kidnapping: What’s the Difference

A lot of people use these terms interchangeably, but there is a difference between kidnapping and abduction.

In most jurisdictions, kidnapping is when someone is taken away by force, threat, or deceit, with an intent to cause harm or detain the victim against their will. You’ll often see kidnappings in movies as a means to collect ransom or make a political statement.

Abduction, on the other hand, is an unlawful interference with a family relationship, like when someone takes a child from a parent, regardless of whether the victim consents or not.

MXXSUQwmpPlRugi8gsz4y38xjfOpJ6I 7DDFhYtQVR6AAP LvvXkC

AMBER Alert and Child Abductions

If you live in the United States, you’ve heard of the AMBER Alert — the nationwide system to alert members of the public that a child has been abducted. According to AMBER Alert statistics, as of May 2021:

  • 988 children have been reduced because of an AMBER Alert
  • 66 children have been rescued because of Wireless Emergency Alerts
  • 86 AMBER Plans have been set up across the country

AMBER, which stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, was created in 1998 after broadcasters in Dallas-Fort Worth teamed up with local police to create an early warning system that would aid in finding abducted children.

It was created in response to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while out riding her bike in Arlington, TX, and subsequently murdered.

With the success of the system, other police departments and states set up their own system. And soon, AMBER plans were adopted all over the nation.

Staggering Child Abduction Numbers

  • More than 2,000 children are reported missing every day
  • Almost 800,000 children are reported missing each year
  • Over 200,000 children are kidnapped by family members each year
  • Approximately 58,000 children are abducted by non-family members
  • Many other missing children are runaways or have been kicked out of their homes
  • 1 in 6 runaways will likely become a victim of human trafficking

Number of Child Abductions by State

Wondering what state has the highest rate of child abduction? While numbers vary from year to year, a 2018 Amber Alert Report from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children puts things in perspective and gives us a rough idea of how child abductions compare from coast to coast.

Topping the list was Texas with 23 AMBER Alerts, followed by Ohio with 15 and California with 11. New York and Florida round out the top 5 with 9 each. From California to Maine and everywhere in between, there were 161 AMBER Alerts issued in 2018.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. AMBER Alerts are typically issued for children 17 years of age or younger.

And in some cases, if police suspect a teen has run away, an AMBER Alert may not even be issued.


Important Child Abduction Facts to Put Things In Perspective

While news of a child going missing every 40 seconds is sure to churn even the most hardened parent’s stomach, there is some good news in all of this.

For every horrible headline of a family torn apart by child abduction, there are countless stories not told about children returning home safe and sound.

Nearly 90% of children reported missing are legitimately lost, have miscommunicated their plans, or have run away. And about 9% are kidnapped by a family member involved in a custody dispute. Child abduction by parents is much more common than abduction by strangers.

While these stories are usually the ones that make the news, the reality is that they number around 100, if that. And about half of these children come home safely.

How to Protect Your Child from Abduction

There’s no parenting course on how to prevent child abduction, but a little common sense goes a long way in helping you react quickly if your child is abducted:

  • Take photos of your kids every month, with clear shots of their face from multiple angles
  • Consider taking their fingerprints too
  • Keep their medical and dental records up to date
  • Set physical boundaries for where your kids can go
  • Choose babysitters and caregivers carefully and do your research
  • Avoid putting your kids’ names on their clothes (including hats, bags, and shirt)
  • Make sure your child knows their full name, address, and phone number 
  • Teach them how to use 911 

Child Abduction, Kidnapping, and the Dangers of Social Networking

Kids spend way too much time on social media. Facebook. Instagram. TikTok. Tinder. Yes, Tinder. You never know what your kids are up to — and who they’re talking to. 

That 12-year-old video game player your daughter is chatting with on TikTok could very well be a 50-year-old male looking to do something nefarious.

But there are tools out there to help ease your worries. mSpy, a parental control app, lets you monitor their social media accounts. 

That includes reviewing their messages and pics, so you know who they’re talking to — and about what.  It also includes GPS tracking technology, so you can find your kids remotely if you’re unsure where they are. 

Parental controls for phone monitoring apps have become increasingly necessary to know what our family is doing. This includes our kids of all ages and also the elderly. 

There are many phone monitoring tools you can use to track your kids and to spy on those when necessary. 


Why mSpy™ Is the Best App to Find Someone’s Location by Phone

We get it. You want to know if it’s possible to track someone’s location with a phone number. The short answer is no. And you know what? The long answer is also no. 

The truth is no matter what some apps might claim, it’s impossible to track someone’s location simply by knowing their phone number. 

Any app that claims otherwise is clearly lying to you and you should steer clear of handing over your cash. Even if they offer you the service for free, chances are they’re just offering you spyware with the end goal of stealing your personal info.

Instead, turn to an app like mSpy. Because it lives invisible on their phone, they’ll have no idea that you’re tracking their location using GPS. And even if they swap SIM cards, you’ll still know where they are since the app isn’t tied directly to their phone number.

mSpy text message dashboard

Find Out When Your Kids Are Where They Shouldn’t Be

Worried about your daughter sneaking out at night? Or maybe you want to give your kids the freedom to travel around town, but want to make sure they’re not crossing over to the wrong side of the tracks. Whatever the reason, mSpy can help. 

With geofencing, you can set forbidden areas on a map. When your son or daughter enters one of these zones, you’ll get alerted. That means you can be confident your kids are staying in an area that you approve of.

Useful Tracking Tool for the Entire Family

Parents love our app, but not just to keep tabs on their kids. Many of our users employ our app to keep track of their own parents. The elderly are more susceptible to memory loss. 

You can use mSpy to make sure they’re staying safe in your neighborhood when you can’t be there to watch them. 

With safe zone alerts, you’ll know if they leave a designated location, so you don’t have to constantly monitor your phone. 

That means you can give your parents the freedom they want, and you won’t have to worry about them getting lost.

That’s extra peace of mind for the parent who worries about child abduction.


As a parent, you always want to keep your child safe. No parent wants to think about their child being kidnapped or abducted, but unfortunately, it is a reality that needs to be faced. 

The thought of them being kidnapped or abducted is terrifying. However, there are steps you can take to prevent this from happening. 

There are steps that you can take as a parent, however, to prevent your child from being taken. 

First, make sure your child knows their personal information, such as their full name, address, and phone number. This will help them if they need to get in touch with you in an emergency. 

Second, teach them to be aware of their surroundings and to trust their instincts. If they feel unsafe, they should tell an adult immediately. 

One of the most important things is to be aware of your child’s surroundings at all times. If you are in a public place, make sure you know where they are and that they are not talking to strangers. 

It is also important to teach your child what to do if they are approached by a stranger. 

They should know to never go anywhere with someone they don’t know and to tell you or another trusted adult immediately if someone tries to take them. 

Finally, it’s important to have a plan in place in case your child does go missing. Make sure you know who to contact and what steps to take. 

By taking these precautions, you can help prevent your child from becoming a statistic and be more armed with knowledge of how to stay safe. 

Useful Child Abduction Resources

  • National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
  • Missing and Exploited Children, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Other Resources for Crimes Against Children

Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program

Scroll to Top