JIS News

The Ananda Alert programme is making strides in reuniting missing children with their families.
Of the 82 children, who were reported missing from their homes since the programme’s launch in May, 44 have been successfully reunited with their families. The number includes 14 teenagers, who had gone missing during the months of February, April and July 2009.
Senior Director for Strategic Policy Planning and Reform in the Department of Local Government, Wayne Robertson, said that “what it (Ananda Alert) has done is create a level of awareness,” among the public.
“We want to get to the point of mitigation where it forces potential abductors to think twice because they recognise that there is a nationwide initiative,” he added.
He told JIS News that in addressing the matter of missing children, focus must be placed on the family structure as not all children, who have been reported missing, were abducted. “There are some deep-seated social issues that the nation has to address in terms of the family fabric and all that…it’s not just abductions why people leave home but there’s also that internal issue at the home,” he pointed out.
The programme, which is being administrated by the Local Government Department in the Office of the Prime Minister, is named in memory of 11-year-old Ananda Dean, whose body was found in the Red Hills area, approximately two weeks after having gone missing in September 2008.
“What we are seeking to do today is something that we hope is much more lasting, much more valuable and that is to ensure that what happened to Ananda does not happen to any child in the future,” Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, declared at the launch.
Under the Ananda Alert programme, when a child goes missing, a report is made to the nearest police station or by calling 119. The police will then alert all stakeholders including media houses, mobile companies, local authorities, and parish councils, and these entities will, in turn, mobilise community groups.
After 12 hours, photos of the missing child will be placed on electronic/mobile billboards, in shops, supermarkets, community centres, church halls, schools and post offices. A website, www.anandaalertjm.com, has been launched, where information on missing children is available, in addition to information on how to file a report.
Some of the 14 teens, who have returned home are: Tishane Hyland, 16 of Barret Town, St. James; Chanatna Anderson, 15 of Anderson Road, Kingston 5; Charlene Cresser, 14, of Morant Bay, St. Thomas; Vannessa Daley, 16, of Greater Portmore, St. Catherine; and Cindy-Ann Richards, 16 of Lawrence Tavern, St. Andrew.

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