Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, is urging parents and guardians to notify the relevant authorities once missing children return home.
“If you report your child missing, we are asking that when your child comes back, you make the report…, so we are clear about what is happening,” she said.
Miss Hanna was speaking at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), aimed at enhancing the Ananda Alert system through a multisectoral approach at the Courtleigh Hotel and Suites in Kingston, on May 14.
She noted that of the 1,800 children that were reported missing in 2012, approximately 1,621 have been returned.
“There are others who perhaps have been returned, but have not been formally reported,” the Minister said.
Miss Hanna is encouraging children to inform their parents and guardians about their whereabouts.
“It is not wise to go somewhere without your parents or guardians knowing where you are going,” she emphasised.
Meanwhile, Registrar at the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), Greig Smith, said dialogue is ongoing with the island’s leading newspapers to have the names of the children who have returned home published on their websites.
He added that the OCR, Office of the Children’s Advocate and the Child Development Agency (CDA) have also committed to publishing the names and photographs of children who have returned home.
In the meantime, Minister Hanna said some of the children who go missing, run away from home in an attempt to escape abusive situations or as a manifestation of impulsive behaviour, which put their lives in jeopardy.
As a consequence, she informed that psycho-social support will be given to a recovered child and his/her family to aid in the healing process and to equip caregivers with the requisite knowledge and skills to protect the children in their care.
“This will be achieved by the joint intervention of the trained professionals at the Child Development Agency and the Ministry of Health, and these agencies are represented here today as signatories of the Ananda Alert Memorandum of Understanding,” she said.
Signatories to the MoU include: Child Development Agency; Jamaica Information Service; Office of the Children’s Advocate; Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC); Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica; and the Ministries of Youth and Culture, Health, Education, Justice, Local Government and Community Development, National Security, and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
The MoU is aimed at raising public awareness concerning missing children and also seeks to strengthen rescue, recovery and intervention measures that are vital to the welfare of child victims and their families.
Under the Ananda Alert system, when a child is reported missing, his or her name and picture will be publicised on various media, such as television, radio, billboards and multimedia equipment in stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and other locations.
Contact: Chris Patterson