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Missing Children

#Children Missing from Home, Care or Education

child looking at mountains

Children and young people  can go missing  and run away from their home and education  due to family / carer conflict, including domestic violence or forced marriage, or personal problems such as substance misuse, bullying or relationship problems. Young people who run away are often unhappy or are influenced by others and often do so to fit in with a group.

Children and young people can  go missing due to being groomed and trafficked for exploitation , including sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation , county lines and becoming involved in gangs. children at risk of radicalisation.

This video created by Humberside Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner (who have commissioned a 'Not in our Community' campaign) highlights the importance of Children and Young People going missing and the risks they can encounter. 

Further information and resources are available on their website and the full library of their film resource can be found at


Contextual Safeguarding and the risks of missing

The risks faced by young people are the same regardless of how often they have run away from home.

The immediate risks and longer term risks associated with running away include: 

  • involvement in criminal activities and being exploited;
  • Becoming a victim of crime, for example through sexual assault, physical abuse and exploitation;
  • Alcohol and substance misuse; Long-term drug dependency;
  • Deterioration of physical and mental health
  • Loss of education and training; income
  • Becoming homeless

Children and young people who are missing from home, care or full-time school education (including those who are excluded from school) and those at risk of exploitation and trafficking are at risk of neglect, emotional harm, likely physical harm including through extreme forms of violence and substance misuse, and sexual harm. The trauma of intimidation, violence, witnessing harm  to others and continued threats, leads to significant mental and physical ill-health for exploited children.

Contextual Safeguarding has been defined in a number of government guidance and academic literature.

Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)

 As well as threats to the welfare of children from within their families, children may be vulnerable to abuse or exploitation from outside their families. These extra-familial threats might arise at school and other educational establishments, from within their peer groups, or more widely from within the wider community and/or online. These threats can take a variety of different forms and children can be vulnerable to multiple threats: exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups such as county lines; trafficking; online abuse; sexual exploitation; and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation.

Keeping Children Safe in Education (2018)

 Safeguarding incidents and/or behaviours can be associated with factors outside the school or college and/or can occur between children outside the school or college.

This is known as contextual safeguarding, which simply means assessments of children should consider whether environmental factors are present in a child’s life that are a threat to their safety and/or welfare.

Contextual Safeguarding Network website (a government funded initiative run by the University of Bedfordshire and the International Centre Researching CSE, Violence and Trafficking):

 Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that that the different relationships young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse.



Children who go Missing from Home and Care Joint Protocol, a collaboration between North Yorkshire County Council, City of York and North Yorkshire Police.



returning home after being missing from care leaflet


Children's Social Care have produced this leaflet, written by young people, for young people going missing from care, and the importance of the Return Interview process. 


Children Missing Education (CME)

All children, regardless of their circumstances, are entitled to a full time education. Children missing education are at significant risk of underachieving, being victims of abuse, and becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) later on in life.   Situations in which children may be at risk of becoming missing from education include;

  • He or she leaves school without their parents/carers giving details of their new school;
  • The destination school given by the parent/carer has not received the pupil;
  • A child fails to start at a school that has agreed to admit the child or that the child has been allocated a place at;
  • Parents/carers are unsure of the pupil’s new school;
  • He or she has stopped attending without the school receiving any notification.

Schools and local authorities have  a duty to undertake reasonable enquiries to establish the whereabouts of chidren who are at risk of missing education.

Schools must notify the local authority when a pupil’s name is to be removed from the admission register at a non-standard transition point

If you have any concerns that a child may be missing from education please contact


CYSCP provides online and face to face training for practitioners.

Useful Links

CYSCP Exploitation Guidance

City of York Council attendance and truancy information

UK National guidance regarding Children Missing Education

York and North Yorkshire Child Exploitation Trusted Relationships Project

For further information regarding the York and North Yorkshire Child Exploitation Trusted Relationships Project including how to make a referral for support.