Fact Check

Can You Claim a Lost Child in Denmark After 2 Hours?

The viral rumor spread through a map that initially began as a meme.

Published Jan 8, 2024

 (X user @TerribleMaps)
Image Via X user @TerribleMaps
Claim:
If you find a lost child in Denmark you can claim it as your own if a parent doesn't show up within two hours.

Maps, memes, and visuals are often used to spread false or misleading information, quickly capturing attention of social media users and conveying complex ideas in a simplified, yet sometimes distorted, manner. At least since December 2022, a bogus image has circulated on social media, showing a map of European countries with a caption that claimed, "Countries where you can claim someones lost child after 2 hours."

The map was shared by @TerribleMaps X and Facebook profiles whose description read, "The home of terrible maps with a pinch of humour." Reverse-image search results showed that the map was also shared on other social media platforms such as Instagram and Reddit.

Countries where you can claim someone's lost child after 2 hours
byu/Redstream28 inMaps

We also found the rumor was spread on various niche websites. For instance, the information about claiming someone's child after two hours in Denmark was included in an article with the title, "40 Bizarre Laws in Europe to Make You Wonder." It read:

Bizarre Laws in Denmark

If a person finds a lost child, they can claim the child as their own if a parent doesn't show up within 2 hours.

Another article, published on travelaway.me website with the title "51 Crazy Stupid Laws in Europe," also claimed that, "In Denmark, if a person finds a lost child, they can claim the child as their own if a parent does not turn up within 2 hours."

However, various comments under the posts with the in-question map suggested that it was originally created as a joke. For instance, one comment sarcastically read, "I'm from denmark, this is 100% true, I have collected 136 children as of today, soon I shall have an army." Moreover, social media users underscored that no other sources confirmed the claim. "... literally the only source I've seen for this is this picture," one comment on Reddit read. "Im from Denmark, have never heard of this? So explain please," another comment on Facebook read.

We found that no reputable, English-language sources confirmed the in-question claim. However, some websites seemed to give some clues about the origins of the rumor. One article on the subject suggested that the alleged Danish "2 hour rule" referred to the "legal requirement for institutions like schools and daycares to notify the police if a child is missing for more than 2 hours without a valid reason."

What is the 2 hour rule for lost children in Denmark?

In Denmark, the 2-hour rule refers to the legal requirement for institutions like schools and daycares to notify the police if a child is missing for more than 2 hours without a valid reason.

Furthermore, this rule ensures a swift response to cases involving lost or missing children to ensure their safety.

We used Google Translate to search for any information on the topic on Danish-language websites, but found no evidence either for the viral rumor or the alleged explanations of its origins. Therefore, we have rated this claim as "Unfounded."

In October 2022, we investigated another claim about Denmark: whether parents there let their babies nap alone outside. We found that the practice of setting babies outdoors in strollers to nap was common in Scandinavia.

We will update this article if/when new information comes to light about the rumor's origins.

Sources

Palma, Bethania. “Do Danish Parents Let Their Babies Nap Alone Outside?” Snopes, 25 Oct. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/danish-babies-nap-alone-outside/.

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.