ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Missing Children in India

Prevalence and Contexts

Missing children in India is among the most serious issues in child protection. A large number of children go missing each year. Several factors for a child going missing include the linkage of missing children with child trafficking. Considering the seriousness of the issue, especially over the past decade or so, there has been a multipronged approach in India towards expediting the tracing of missing children. This article briefly examines the different categories of missing children, and incidence/prevalence of missing children. It affirms the need for contextualising the issue of missing children within the larger discourse of child vulnerability, marginalisation, and child protection.


In November 2020, heartening media reports about Delhi woman head constable, Seema Dhaka being given an out-of-turn promotion for tracing missing children generated the much-needed attention for missing children. Under an incentive scheme,1 Dhaka was promoted as an assistant sub-inspector for tracing 56 children, who were less than 14 years of age, out of the total 76 children she had traced. These missing children were traced not only from Delhi but from West Bengal, Punjab, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Noida, Panipat, Bihar, etc (Outlook 2020). Most of the cases involved children who had been separated from their families years ago. Sharing about the experience, Dhaka remarked, “I did not rest for a single day, and could not give time to my family and my son who is in Class 3. The target was to rescue 50 kids in a year, but I rescued 76 in 2.5 months, and took 15 days to prepare the report” (Sharma 2020). Such news item rekindle hope for the missing children of India.

There are different reasons for a child going missing such as getting lost and separated due to crowded places, leaving home on their own either for work or due to difficult family circumstances, getting influenced by peers, and potential traffickers, taken away from family under the pretext of child marriage, child labour, kidnapping, as well as separation due to riots, disasters, civil strife, and while fleeing persecution.

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Updated On : 8th Jan, 2022
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