A shocking statistic in this country, and for that matter many many other countries, is the number of children who go missing every year. Last year with the new National Crime Agency being formed and having CEOP embedded in it there were several initiatives: launch of a new helpline – 116000- and a new website www.missingkids.co.uk to somehow try and tackle the estimated 140,000 children going missing every year in this country.
It’s always appeared to me that the national media networks have got – whether explicitly or implicitly – a public service brief and therefore I don’t understand why there are not dedicated channels, times or segments of programmes devoted to this most serious of situations. I know that there have been huge social media appeals, high profile cases, online campaigns and much improved cooperation between agencies. However I am convinced that the level of awareness to the scale of the problem and knowledge of the structures set up to help in your average British household is low.
I cant remember hearing of the impact assessment of international or national campaigns and I haven’t seen an outcome analysis of advertising campaigns that occurred over the last year. I know that there is a tremendous amount of work that goes on in the statutory and voluntary sectors. Websites exist and there are data banks and I am also aware of the European initiatives that are available to law enforcement agencies and organisations dedicated to support children.
I suppose that it’s just a bit of a mystery why most households in the country would be aware of how to contact people with regards to missing pets but less able to know the best route for missing children – apart from just contacting the police to monitor searches.
I know that agencies make different categories of missing children and many return after 48 hours, but when you hear of the work and stories coming from organisations such as Kids Company about the large number of ‘feral’ children existing in our cities the depth of the problem begins to hit home. We know that there are not just runaways, but in jargon terms there are also the throwaways.
It’s not that there’s not work being done, so it’s a mystery to me that there’s the dislocation between the facts and the public awareness of the facts.
I don’t know the answer but I would like to hear other peoples views. Let me know.by