Today is International Missing Children’s Day and NZ Police has now joined 19 other countries that are affiliated to the Global Missing Children’s Network.
It is estimated that at least 8 million children worldwide go missing each year or 22,000 a day.
The GMCN is a central multi-lingual database featuring information about and photographs of missing children.
Participating countries are given access to the network so they can enter missing children onto the database.
The GMCN also provides up-to-date training in the latest forensic imaging (age-progression technology) and information on current issues and trends from around the world.
Detective Sergeant Linda Simpson of the Missing Persons Unit says New Zealand is fortunate not to have children being kidnapped or abducted for sexual exploitation.
“There are many countries where children are abducted and sexually exploited.
Many of them are never found”
Currently, New Zealand has six historic cases of missing children (under 16 years of age) who have never been found.
All of them are believed to be dead.
The most recent was two-year-old Amber Cruickshank who went missing in Queenstown in 1992.
The oldest case is that of 10-year-old Ronald Oldham, who went missing in 1941 in Wellington.
It is thought that he boarded a ship in the Miramar Port.
D/Sgt Simpson says New Zealand is a relatively safe place for children to grow up in and the numbers of missing children are small.
“However, it is important for us to be part of the wider international community and to be aware of any international trends that might affect New Zealand. We also want to be part of the prevention work that the GMCN carries out internationally.”
The GMCN holds International Missing Children’s Day each year on May 25.
“This is the first year NZ Police has been affiliated with the GMCN and appropriately the theme this year is around Prevention Tips to keep children safe.
“This fits in well with NZ Police’s Prevention First programme.”
It is important to teach children how to stay safe and inform them of risks they may encounter.
Adults should take the time to provide children with the tools they need to recognize danger and to talk with them about specific ways to stay safe.
The Global Network, has developed prevention tips to help parents, guardians and other adults discuss safety with children.
These tips are available in 10 different languages and are available at www.helpbringthemhome.org.au
Safety advice is also available on the police website www.police.govt.nz
Source: New Zealand Police.