Family abductions and missing children is a serious problem in South Africa. As many as 1000 children that were reported missing have never been recovered. One of the reasons that children are abducted is because of child trafficking. It is estimated that nearly 1.2million children are being trafficked every year. That is a very scary thought as the majority of children that are trafficked are sold in to prostitution or are used in the drug trade. No parent wants that kind of life for their child and for this reason, the Missing Children South Africa (MCSA) national coordinator, Judy Oliver said in a recent interview with the Citizen Newspaper that there are important lessons that you need to teach your children in order to keep them safe.
The first lesson that Oliver suggests is that you teach your children that if they are approached by a stranger that they should scream and yell for help. This will draw attention to them and will hopefully save them from any predators. Another lesson that Oliver promotes is to teach your children to never walk alone. She calls this the Buddy System. Another important statement made by Oliver that many people are not aware of is that there is no waiting period to report a missing child. Unlike in American movies where you often see parents being told by the police that they have to wait 24 hours to report a person missing, that is not the case in this country. According to Oliver, the Missing Children South Africa call the first three hours after an abduction the golden hours. The reason for this is that after three the child can be anywhere, in another province, city, or even country and therefore these first three hours are crucial to help police find the missing child. If the police tell you to wait 24 hours, you can call MCSA to assist you in finding your child.
One of the problems with missing children is that it is extremely complicated in that there are different categories of missing children. These categories are:
- Family abductions
- Endangered runaways
- Non-family abductions
- Lost, injured, or otherwise missing children
As a result, we require innovative systems to help track children. One such system that is currently available is called Iris recognition. Iris recognition is based on the unique biometric, the iris of the eye. Each human on the planet has an absolutely unique iris and as all humans irises are developed and stable by the time they are 12months old, this type of recognition software can help parents find their children. Unfortunately in South Africa, this type of software is not being used and therefore we have to rely on traditional methods to help find missing children.
Family abductions and missing children is a scary thing to think about, even if you do not have a child yourself. Imagine if you were looking after a family members’ or friends’ child and they went missing, many of us would have no idea what to do and would feel incredibly guilty should anything happen to the child. It is therefore imperative that everyone makes themselves knowledgeable on what to do in the case of a family abduction or any other kind of missing child. Another problem that we as South African’s are faced with is a police force that can be extremely uncooperative and unhelpful. Therefore it is essential that all parents and family members know that there are other avenues for them to take in order to find their missing child. MSCA is a great organization and they are always willing to help find any missing child.