It’s International Missing Children’s Day and as much as you may want to avoid this subject and think of happier themes, we need to keep the momentum up and focus on how and why our children go missing and get killed in South Africa on a regular basis.
We need a solution to this crisis especially considering the recent cases of young children that have been raped and murdered in our country that have made the headlines, including that of 3 year old Courtney Pieters, who went missing for days before she was found raped and murdered in Elsies River, Cape Town.
There are some shocking statistics being bandied about today about missing children. Political opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) said that according to the Global Missing Children’s Network, of which South Africa is a member, 8 million children go missing every year around the world. This amounts to 22 000 children being reported missing every day.
Locally, at least 866 children go missing every year. So on average a child goes missing every 10 hours. Missing Children South Africa predicts that Gauteng has the second highest number of children reported missing.
Worryingly, the DA points out that: “Too often we hear stories of parents being turned away from police stations because they are incorrectly told that they must wait 24 hours before a child can be reported as missing. This could not be further from the truth. In the instance of a child going missing, it must be reported to the police immediately.”
So 8 million children go missing every year. Digest that for a bit: 8 million! How is this even possible? The earth, even if it wanted to, cannot swallow up that many children. While many get reunited with their loved ones a good many of them don’t. According to NGO Missing Children South Africa, 23% of missing children are not reunited with their loved ones. Where are they? Are they falling victim to child trafficking syndicates, or killed and never found?
The DA says it will submitting a series of written questions to the Provincial Executive in order to establish what the law enforcement and social services authorities are doing to ensure that more missing children are found, and that parents and guardians are aware of their rights when a child goes missing. Questions are all good and well. But what are we DOING?
The other day I heard a distraught father call into the Cape Talk radio station as his autistic son had gone missing from a school in the southern suburbs in Cape Town. Apparently, he’d made a dash for it after the school gates were left open. The community got involved. People were calling in, saying they would register the son as missing with the Pink Ladies and other organisations and go to the area to help find him. That’s ACTION. We need more of that. More action, less talk. The result was that the child was found by a member of the community. If no one had helped it could all have gone so horribly, horribly wrong.
So help where you can because there are millions of parents out there right now wondering if their child/ren will ever come home. And don’t let anyone from the South African Police Service turn you away. You have the right to report your child missing immediately!
Organisations you can support or turn to:
Missing Children South Africa: Besides reporting your child missing at the police station you can report them missing here too. This organisation can be supported through donations and Woolworths’ MySchool card.
Pink Ladies Organisation for Missing Children: You can also report a child with this organisation and draw on them for support as they advise parents/caregivers/loved ones on how to open missing cases at various police stations.