JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) is reporting a 90 percent recovery rate for missing children over the past three years, through the Ananda Alert System.
  • The volunteers who are from various community and government organizations will also be conducting interviews with community members to generate leads to assist the police in locating missing children.
  • Ms. Ferguson says the ongoing fora will give young persons an opportunity to express their views on the issue of missing children.

The Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) is reporting a 90 percent recovery rate for missing children over the past three years, through the Ananda Alert System.

Data provided by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Missing Persons Monitoring Unit show that for January to December 2015, some 1,941 children (1,533 females and 408 males) were reported missing, and of that number, 1,739 were recovered.

In an interview with JIS News, Head of the Ananda Alert Secretariat, Nathalee Ferguson, outlines some of the issues that lead to the disappearance of children.

She notes that children between 14 and 17 years old are often reported missing during holidays and following popular events frequented by young persons.

“Some children fall victim to peer pressure and tend to go missing at that time. Sometimes some children have simple disagreements in the home and they run away,” she adds.

Ms. Ferguson says an often over-looked factor in the disappearance of children is that some of these young persons suffer from mental disorders.

“Children have various issues as well; it’s not just adults who have to deal with mental issues or have problems dealing with their temper. Some of the children who are missing are mentally ill,” the Ananda Alert officer notes.

Ms. Ferguson says that some children run away from home because of abuse and neglect.

She tells JIS News of some interventions applied through the Ananda Alert System which have contributed to the increased recovery rate.

Ms. Ferguson informs that the Ananda Alert Secretariat and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Caribbean Search Centre have conducted more than 10 search and rescue training sessions to furnish volunteers with the knowledge to assist JCF personnel in tracking down missing children.

Between 2014 and 2015, some 150 volunteers from the parishes of St. James, Trelawny, St. Ann, St. Thomas, Westmoreland and St. Catherine underwent training in search and rescue. This is in response to the high number of missing children reports submitted to the Secretariat from these areas.

Another training session is to be conducted in Kingston in July. This will be complemented by training in First Aid techniques by the Jamaica Fire Brigade to equip volunteers in administering immediate basic medical attention where needed, until professional medical personnel arrive.

The volunteers who are from various community and government organizations will also be conducting interviews with community members to generate leads to assist the police in locating missing children.

Additionally, the Secretariat has been reaching out to children through its public awareness campaign, ‘Missing Children Fora’.

Since the start of the 2015/2016 academic year, the OCR has staged discussion sessions in high schools across Kingston, Trelawny and St. Mary, aimed at fostering awareness among students about strategies they can employ to deal with challenges in the home to prevent disappearances.

Ms. Ferguson says the ongoing fora will give young persons an opportunity to express their views on the issue of missing children.

“We are engaging these high school students to find out what they think needs to be done about the issue of missing children,” she says.

The OCR has collaborated with several organizations to stage over 100 public education activities, including school tours, community/town hall meetings and sensitization sessions on issues surrounding missing children and the importance of protecting children from abuse.

Partners of the OCR include the Jamaica Constabulary Force, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC), Jamaica Library Service (JLS), Cabletron Network Systems, RJR Communications Group and Jamaica Observer.

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