ALEXANDRIA, VA – Some of us are old enough to remember when the late-evening local news was preceded by a voice asking, “It’s 11:00. Do you know where your children are?”
The answer hoped for was, “Yes. They are home, safely tucked into their beds.” No reply was expected. The question was an early form of a public service announcement that was meant to raise awareness that parents are responsible for understanding their children’s vulnerabilities and ensuring their well-being.
That late-night question is lost in the fading memories of a distant past. Ironically, if there were ever a time the question needed to be asked, it is today.
The International Center for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) considers “any child under the age of 18 whose whereabouts are unknown” to be missing. The ICMEC works to raise awareness of this crisis within the global community. The group partners with government authorities “to establish effective nation-wide prevention and response measures.”
Missing Children Europe is awakening the public to the fact that some missing child#ren have not necessarily been abducted. Their research, in partnership with Child Helpline International, has discovered that more than half (54%) of the missing children on the continent are runaways, thus identifying another core facet of the overall problem.
Consider, however, that runaways unintentionally put themselves into even more vulnerable situations than the one they may be running from. By running away, they are highly likely to be jumping from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. Runaways are ideal targets for those seeking to harm them or profit from trafficking them.
One Missing Child Is One Too Many
More than one million children are reported missing every year. Their parents don’t know where they are – or if they will ever see them again.
It is time for Christians to awaken to this crisis and determine to find ways to respond. The number of missing child#ren at any given time is difficult to discern. And, we have reached a point, culturally, where “one million” is just another number. Here are a few more localized statistics to help us gain a better perspective on the status of this serious and growing situation.
- Nearly 2,000 children were missing in Spain at the end of 2019.
- More than 40,000 children in Canada were missing at the same time.
- South Korea reported 21,551 missing child#ren in 2019.
- Approximately 80,0000 children go missing annually in the U.K.
- In excess of 111,000 children were reported missing in a recent tabulation in India.
Before we think that those other countries need to take care of their own problems, we need to come to grips that nearly 422,000 children were missing in the United States in 2019. That’s more than the five other countries listed above combined.
Now that we are aware of the magnitude of the problem of missing child#ren let’s make others aware, and let’s do something about it. Contacting your local church leadership may be the best place to start.