Deputy Registrar at the Children’s Registry Warren Thompson yesterday told a child protection forum audience in Linstead, St. Catherine, that he is concern about the relatively large number of children who are yet to be found after being reported missing locally.
“We have about 90 percent that return home, but we are even more so concerned about the 10 percent [who don’t return home] – because 10 percent is a lot,” he posited.
Thompson further said: “In 2019, we had 1543 children across the island who went missing and that’s a very low number compared to previous years – very low; we are coming down from 2000-and-add. Think about 10 percent of that figure being 150 children; 150 children that we can’t account for.”
Thompson is not ruling out the possibility of the children being trafficked outside of Jamaica.
“We don’t know what happened to them; we don’t know if some of them died; we don’t know if some of them were trafficked outside of Jamaica; we really don’t know,” he said. “We don’t know if some of them were held in captivity or have to be working in slave-like conditions; we really don’t know. We encourage parents; do all you can to keep your children at home.”
Thompson, in the meantime, said most of the children being reported missing usually run away from home.
“The majority of children reported missing tend to be the runaways. But when the children run away all sorts of things happen to them, and they find themselves in situations where they are further victimized,” he reasoned. “No child runs away from a good home… Child abuse is one of the main factors driving children running away from home.”
Thompson further disclosed that majority of children being reported missing are from the St. Catherine North Police Division, in which Linstead is located.
“Do you know that St. Catherine North has the most reports of missing children last year and the year before?” he said. “Out of the 1510 reports that we had across the island in 2018, St. Catherine North had 255 reports of missing children. Last year, we had 271 – is a whole lot of pickney going missing over here.”
Meanwhile, Sergeant Morgan Sweeny, who handles missing persons reports in the St. Catherine North Division, told the gathering at Rose Duncan Park that children are mainly the ones reported missing in the division.
“Since the start of this year, 74 persons have been reported missing within the St. Catherine North Division. Of that number, 54 were children – and that is a grave concern to us,” she further said.
Sergeant Sweeny advised that, whenever a child who was reported missing has been located, that child should be taken to the nearest police station and a report given.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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