On the occasion of the International Children’s Day, which is celebrated on May 25 around the world, ASTRA published a report on the work of the 116000 European Missing Children Number in Serbia. The report gives an overview of missing children cases in our country in 2016. Below you can find a press release ASTRA published on this occasion:
“During 2016, a total of 881 calls were received to the European Missing Children Hotline in Serbia, which is double compared to last year. ASTRA received 33 missing children reports of different categories, the majority of which were unaccompanied migrants (14 children). Other categories of missing children reported to the European Missing Children Number were runaways, parental abduction and 5 cases of lost or injured or otherwise missing children.
The data of the entire network of European Missing Children Numbers (which operates in 31 European countries) show the same structure of calls. Namely, the largest percentage of calls refers to children who ran away from home, followed by parental abductions, unaccompanied migrants and in a very small number (under 1%) abductions by a third person.
ASTRA is constantly trying to point out – to both state authorities and parents – to a large number of runaways because at these moments children are the most vulnerable to various forms of violence and exploitation. We have welcomed the amendment to Article 72 of the Police Act, envisaging immediate search for missing children and not 24 hours after the child’s disappearance is reported. Further, we call on competent authorities to consistently apply this article in practice, including an immediate search for children with previous runaway experience. We also call on an urgent introduction of the child alert system similar to the Amber Alert. ASTRA has discussed this system with the representatives of state authorities several times, but concrete steps for its introduction are still missing.
Media interest in the topic of missing children problem continued into 2016, which has contributed to increased awareness of this problem in Serbia and the proper ways to react if a child goes missing.