Unreported missing (also known as Missing Missing or Kids off the Grid) describes persons who cannot be found, yet have not been or cannot be reported as missing persons to law enforcement, specifically the National Crime Information Center database of missing persons in the United States. The term applies whether the missing person is a child or an adult.
One reason unreported missing persons may not be formally listed as missing is that those over the age of majority can be "voluntarily missing." Barring evidence of criminality or being a danger to oneself, privacy and confidentiality laws generally protect the rights of those who elect to remain out of contact with family or friends. If an adult unreported missing person is located in such an instance, the police are not obligated to inform the family of the missing person's whereabouts.
According to Outpost For Hope, people can become unreported missing for a variety of reasons, including:
- the lost/missing person may be estranged from family or friends;
- law enforcement may not take a "missing person" report;
- the lost/missing person may be in the country illegally;
- the person may be an unknown dependent child of an unreported missing adults or teens; or
- the person might be the victim of an undiscovered crime.
Another example is of children born to homeless or drug addicted mothers. These children are not registered anywhere and can become victims of crime without any of their other relatives or local agencies knowing. Other children who go missing but are unreported are often runaway foster children or children who are neglected or whose files are simply cases fumbled by police.
Someone can also become an Unreported Missing person through a victim of an exploitative crime, being involved in human trafficking or prostitution. A study by Professor Kenna Quinet states, "The most successful serial killers know to select the unmissed as victims if they intend to kill for an extended period of time". In her study she refers to serial killers targeting transient people because they are not easily missed, as well as people in institutionalized care.
Being unreported puts a person at a higher risk of exploitation than a person who is reported missing. There are many different outcomes or ways in which a person can be lost or "off the grid". These outcomes include situations like being mentally ill and lost among the homeless. When this happens, a person could very well be mentally ill or have a drug problem, go into the streets, cannot be reported missing by their family because they have a history of disappearing and then be the victim of murder or human trafficking. The family never sees them again and even if their body is found, the police have no way of tracking the person to their family as they are not listed in any formal missing database.
- "Outpost For Hope". Outpost For Hope. 2012-01-15. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- "Missing Kid Crisis Dcfs Finds Only A Few Runaways, Abductees. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- "Scripps Howard News Service". Shns.com. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- Readers Digest Article http://www.rd.com/content/founder-of-outpost-for-hope