25th of May is the International Missing Children’s day and awareness raising is always important but especially now in the time of COVID-19, as there is a real concern that missing children are away for longer periods of time and being found further from home.
In the United Kingdom at least 100 000 children go missing each year. There are key factors in their life, which can lead them to ending up in a dangerous situation.
- The ‘push’ factors are the conflict, violence and abuse what makes them feel forced to leave their homes.
- When children are encouraged to leave home by perpetrators of grooming and exploitation, they usually build emotional connection and use control over them. These called ‘pull’ factors.
- Refugee and migrant children are even a greater concern. 15% of migrant children and every fourth trafficked children go missing, and usually are never found.
During coronavirus restrictions it is still really important to report missing children. Parents and carers might be afraid of repercussions, such as fines, but if you do not feel their children are safe or may be at risk of harm or exploitation, report it as soon as you can.
Fortunately, there are children who find their way back home and practitioners are supporting and encouraging them to have a Return Home Interview, where they can share what triggered them and what happened when they were away. This interview is a really important part of support and even with the current situation practitioners are doing everything they can through phone or video chat to help children in need.