National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART), 1988 (ICPSR 9682)

Version Date: Nov 21, 1996 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
David Finkelhor, University of New Hampshire; Gerald T. Hotaling, University of Lowell; Andrea Sedlak, Westat, Inc.


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This collection was undertaken in response to the mandate of the 1984 Missing Children Act. The objective of the act was to estimate the incidence of five categories of children: children abducted by family members, children abducted by nonfamily members, runaways, thrownaways (those not wanted by their families or taken from families because of abuse or neglect), and children considered missing. Data were collected by several different methods. The centerpiece of this collection is a household survey (Parts 19, 20, and 35) that interviewed families to determine whether any children fit the categories under study. Basic demographic information on age, race, and sex was collected, and questions on the family situation were asked of identified children and their parents and siblings. A survey of juvenile facilities (Parts 28 and 29) was also conducted to determine how many children had run away from these facilities. Facility administrators were prompted for demographic information on the runaways as well as for information on the structure of the runaways' families. In addition, a survey of returned runaways (children who had run away and returned home) (Part 30) was completed to find out whether children's accounts of runaway episodes matched the accounts given by their parents. Children were queried about their relationships with their parents and their views of their contributions to the family. They were also asked about each specific runaway episode: whether they actually ran away or were asked to leave, how long the episode lasted, whether friends knew about it, whether friends accompanied them, whether they used drugs before, during, or after the episode, how they were found, where they were found, and whether disciplinary action was taken. The police records component (Parts 31-33) contains information on homicides, abductions, and sexual assaults.

Finkelhor, David, Hotaling, Gerald T., and Sedlak, Andrea. National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART), 1988. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1996-11-21.

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (87-MC-CX-K069)
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1988 -- 1989
  1. ICPSR originally received 27 separate rectangular files for the household survey. Twenty-five of these files were combined and sorted into one hierarchical file, Part 35, Household Hierarchical Data. The hierarchical file has 140,611 records, 2,175 variables, and a logical record length of 386. One record was deleted from record type 06, the ABNM Segment, because it contained only missing data. The other two household rectangular files appear separately, as Part 19, Institution and Child Link Segment Data, and Part 20, Institution Type Data.

  2. The part numbers begin with Part 19.


(1) The sample for the household survey was generated through computerized random-digit dialing. (2) The sample for the juvenile facilities was generated by asking respondents in the household survey if any child in the family had lived in some type of facility such as a boarding school for at least two weeks in the previous year. A juvenile facility in the sample had a probability of being nominated in proportion to the number of children in the facility from telephone households. (3) The sample for the returned runaway file was constituted from the household survey. Households indicating a returned runaway incident were included in this sample. (4) The police records survey was conducted from a stratified random sample based upon region of country, level of urbanization, and population by age.

All households in the United States.

personal telephone interviews, self-enumerated forms, official juvenile facility records, and official police records



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Finkelhor, David, Gerald T. Hotaling, and Andrea Sedlak. National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART), 1988. ICPSR09682-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1996.

1996-11-21 SAS and SPSS data definition statements, formerly distributed in multiple files, have been concatenated into single files.

1992-03-04 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.