- Simonia Bradbury is relieved that her daughter Jennira Jane* is safe and no longer missing.
- The 13-year old, who has frequently run away from home, was recently recovered after she disappeared for the third time on January 26, 2015. She is now in the care of the state, where she is being supervised and is receiving psychosocial treatment.
- Mrs. Bradbury is grateful for the support from her neighbours and the intervention of the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), the Missing Persons Monitoring Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and other state agencies for ensuring the safe return of her daughter.
Simonia Bradbury is relieved that her daughter Jennira Jane* is safe and no longer missing.
The 13-year old, who has frequently run away from home, was recently recovered after she disappeared for the third time on January 26, 2015. She is now in the care of the state, where she is being supervised and is receiving psychosocial treatment.
Her mother hopes that this time, the therapists will get to the root of Jennira Jane’s problem, and she will be able to return to her home in South St. Andrew.
Mrs. Bradbury says her daughter’s disappearances, have caused pain and distress for the family.
“It stresses me so much,” Mrs. Bradbury recounts to JIS News. “I remember I was on the floor for a week; don’t want to bathe, don’t want to eat, not sleeping. Me down, her father is down; none of us can do anything. Plates want to wash, things need to be done in the house and none of us can do it because she is not home and we don’t know where to find her,” she recalls.
She says the last disappearance “caused so much pain and no day passed when I did not cry. Not to mention her father, sometimes him even on the road searching for her,” she says, stating that often, she had to restrain her tears, when her siblings asked for her.
Mrs. Bradbury says she does not know why her daughter, whom she describes as “beautiful and quiet,” keeps running way, as she has the support of a loving family.
She says Jennira Jane has also received counselling in the past but the disappearances continued.
Mrs. Bradbury is grateful for the support from her neighbours and the intervention of the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), the Missing Persons Monitoring Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and other state agencies for ensuring the safe return of her daughter.
“The neighbours, whenever anything, they are always with me, to search or to hand out pictures or to ask questions, they are with me a hundred percent,” she says.
Jennira Jane is among scores of children, who go missing daily. Statistics from the OCR is showing that nine out of every 10 children reported missing return home. Figures are also showing a reduction in the number of children going missing for the first three months of 2015, when compared with figures for 2014, when over 500 children were reported missing.
“This year 2015, we have seen a reduction and so we are under 500 children, who have reported missing for those three months,” Registrar of the OCR, Greig Smith tells JIS during an interview.
He says the Government is intensifying its efforts to address the problem of missing children and for the first time this year, the OCR is observing International Missing Children Day on Monday, May 25.
“This year is very significant for the Office of the Children’s Registry as we seek to heighten awareness as regards to how we can prevent the number of children that are going missing; what it is that the Registry will be doing and what it is that parents need to do to help break the cycle of the number of children that go missing,” Mr. Smith notes.
He says the OCR will also be engaging the public through social media as well as provide tips on how to care for and protect children.
“We are going to heighten awareness through our social media platform, such as our Twitter and Facebook accounts. We will also be trying to get advertisements through our television and radio stations and in our newspapers and also, we are going to be doing presentations at various churches, and at Twenty/ 20 Community Cricket Competitions,” he informs.
Mr. Smith tells JIS News that initiatives under Ananda Alert, which is responsible for the safe and speedy recovery of missing children, will also be boosted.
He says the ORC will continue to distribute its Ananda Alert Search and Rescue Protocols for Missing Children. “The dissemination has been going extremely well. They have been disseminated to all our children’s homes and all the schools we have visited on our school tours and we are going to continue distributing those 3,000 plus search and rescue protocols,” he says.
Several first aid and search and rescue training sessions for OCR volunteers will be held during the year. Mr. Smith explains that the intention is to have the volunteers assist the police in the recovery of missing children and offer basic first aid assistance if required.
Noting that support is also provided to the family, Mr. Smith says that when a child is reported missing a report is referred to the JCF’s Missing Persons Monitoring Unit and the Victim Services Division of the Ministry of Justice, to offer preliminary counselling services to the family.
“Once the child is located, then we do a follow up in counselling and social intervention from the Child Development Agency (CDA). If there are issues with specific schools, then we work with the Ministry of Education to see how we can get that child back into school to continue his or her education,” he explains.
The OCR Registrar is encouraging parents of missing children to keep their counselling appointments so that “all measures are taken in the best interest of the child and we do not have a recurrence of the child going missing again.”
He notes that parents and guardians can also help to recover their children by taking a recent photograph of the missing child to the nearest police station, adding that they can also call the OCR to assist with the scanning of photographs.
“We say to parents that once a child returns, you must make a report to the Office of the Children’s Registry and also go back to the police station where you made the report to inform the authorities of the child’s return,” he advises.
Head of the Corporate Communication Unit (CCU) of the JCF, Inspector of Police Dahlia Garrick, told JIS that the recent introduction of the Stay Alert Application is a useful tool in the recovery of missing persons, especially children.
The app, designed by the Ministry of National Security, has four features:
- Report, which allows for sending anonymous information to the police. This can be in the form of a video recording, audio recording, photo or a message;
- Panic Mode, which allows for making contact with the police if someone is in distress;
- The Law, which allows for receiving and searching for specific Jamaican laws;
- Alerts for receiving important information in the form of text, video, audio or photo.
According to Inspector Garrick, members of the public can anonymously share information about a missing child or any other matter using the iReport.
“So for example, if you have information about a missing child but you don’t want to get involved at the level of going to a police station to make that personal report or call in, you can use your phone, you can take a photograph and send it on the stay alert and that would go in through the iReport,” she explains, adding that persons can also send a text message or a voice note.
Inspector Garrick says the panic button allows persons to make an emergency connection to the Police Control Centre.
“This is something that is covered on a 24-hour basis so there is always someone there to receive that notification and will immediate contact you to find out if it is a legitimate emergency. If you are not contacted, further action will still be taken,” she informs.
She says that the police is also able to contact the missing person’s next of kin using the contact information provided on the app during registration.
Persons utilising the app will get an immediate alert that someone is missing, along with relevant information and a photograph.
“We are all concerned about missing persons, especially missing children and this is an avenue that you will get up-to-date information on who is missing and we will use this platform to give updates as to who has been found and other critical information,” Inspector Garrick says.
She tells JIS News that a large number of persons have downloaded the app since it was introduced to the public earlier this year.
“The feedback has been extremely positive. Several thousand persons have downloaded and that is very positive because the app has been recently re-launched. It has been wonderful, but we want to see everyone with a smart phone having this app because it means that you are serious about protecting yourselves and sharing information,” she adds.
The stay alert app can be downloaded on all android devices through the Unite for Change website, uniteforchangejm.org or Google Play store.
*Not her Real Name