When a child goes missing

If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in busy malls this year, keep these statistics from Missing Children South Africa in mind, and take note of what to do in the event your child goes missing.

Did you know a child goes missing every six hours in South Africa? 1460 missing children’s cases are reported to the South African Police Service every year and 560 cases to Missing Children SA, a registered NPO and PBO that assists the authorities when an individual goes missing in South Africa, for any reason whatsoever.

Missing Children South Africa recently announced their statistics on cases reported to them from 1 December 2011 to 30 November 2012:
Missing children – 304
Children found – 274

Gauteng had the highest number of reported missing children’s cases amounting to 144. Around 136 of these children were found. Sadly 3% of children that went missing were found dead.
The scary fact is that 23% of children that go missing are between the ages of 0 – 6 years old, but according to the stats, the reason most children go missing is because they simply get lost.
On a positive note, Missing Children SA has a 90% success rate in finding missing children alive and returning them safely to their parents.

General safety tips
Should your child ever go missing, keep these tips in mind:
• There’s no waiting period for reporting a missing person to the nearest police station. If the police officer tells you to come back after 24 hours, demand to speak to the station commander. Or contact Missing Children SA.
• Have the following info on hand when reporting a missing person:
• Full name of missing person
• Age of missing person
• Description of missing person
• Eye colour
• Hair colour/style
• Height
• Weight
• Distinctive marks – scars/birthmarks
• Where the person was last seen
• Clothes the person was wearing.

Keep your kids safe with these tips from Missing Children SA
• Know where your child is at all times, who they’re with and what they’re wearing.
• Always keep a recent photo of your child on you, so that the photo will be readily available in case of an emergency.
• Teach your children their own names and addresses, as well as your name and telephone number.
• Keep your children close to home and teach them the importance of the BUDDY SYSTEM: never go anywhere alone.
• ID bracelets, (or any other form of identification with your contact number on it) is very useful.
• Take your children to the nearest police station, hospital and clinic to show them how to find it easily, and point out landmarks to prevent them from getting lost.
• Teach your children to make loud noises to attract attention.
• Teach your children not to trust strangers or accept gifts from them.

You can download an Interim ID Kit (an informal document that serves as a guideline about what will be needed by SAPS when a child goes missing) from www.missingchildren.org.za or email info@missingchildren.org.za to have one sent to you.

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