In order to mark today's International Missing Children’s Day and to not forget the children who have gone missing, the organisation "The Smile of the Child" chose a blue forget–me-not.
The celebration of the International Missing Children’s Day took place in Zappeio Hall and parked in front of it were ambulances, fire trucks, motorcycles, police patrol cars, a Coast Guard boat and even a helicopter. All those are means of transportation used during missing children investigations.
"In such a case we should not wait even a minute, but inform the police immediately. In cases of missing children the first hours after the disappearance are of particular importance," said a representative of the police.
"For us every child that goes missing and that we cannot find, it is too much to handle," said the coordinator of the European hotline for missing children (116-000) Ioanna Lagoumindzi, who presented the 2011 statistics on missing children. Encouraging is the fact that from 120 missing children cases, 112 were found, while the remaining eight are still missing. 12 cases were publicized in the media, for 4 posters were put up in public places, and for another two the Amber alert Hellas system was used.
"Last year we received 142 calls for help in investigating the discovery of missing children. 56 percent of the cases were about missing children, 31 percent were teenagers, who had ran away from home, and the remaining 13 percent had been kidnapped, which most often is done by one of the parents, and the victims are of a very young age.”
The organisation cooperates with many European and international organisations dealing with similar activities, and in October 2011 a Centre for missing and abused children for Southeast Europe was established in Greece. Its goal is to improve cross-border cooperation, the introduction of a European hotline 116-000 in the region and the establishment of national centres for victims.
During the meeting a video message was shown by Interpol specialist of crimes against children and commanding officer of the missing person unit from the Belgian federal police Alain Remue. He called on parents to talk to their children and warn them of the dangers of the world around them.
Representatives of "The Smile of the Child" presented the rules of action in the event of the disappearance of a child, which have already been sent to all police stations in the country. "It describes precisely the actions to be taken because insufficient knowledge may even put the lives of missing children in danger." A representative from the police also provided data on missing children cases, which are being investigated. "I must stress that the number is not quite accurate, because often the same child escapes from home several times. According to statistics, the largest number of missing children are from Greece, followed by children from Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and Afghanistan. A more specific problem is that when we find the children of illegal immigrants, often the family has left Greece and it is difficult to locate them.
"The number of girls who disappear is twice that of boys. This is explained by the fact that they often create relations with older men with whom they run away. But in most cases they return home by themselves after a few days," said a representative of the police.
Representatives of all government departments and volunteer organisations spoke at the meeting, who also get mobilized every time there is a signal of a missing child.
Finally, children from the “Smile of the Child” kindergarten, called the “City of Lilliputians” entered the Hall. They took the participants of the meeting by hand and took them out. Outside they played with some of the rescue dogs, and then sent into the sky balloons with the pictures and names of children, who are still missing.
All of us, let's remember: If we see a child alone, let’s not ignore him. Ask people around whether they know him or his family. Ask him whether he is lost and needs help, but without asking too many questions, because children are cautious and can get scared. Calm him down, without touching him. We should inform the police and not leave the child before making sure that he is safe.
Tags: Missing children Amber alert police Interpol
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