On the International Missing Children’s Day, marked on May 25, Save the Children Romania warned about the risk situations threatening the children who run from home or those in the care centers.
In this respect, the organization organizes regular meetings with school counselors in order to identify the children and the families subject to risk situations and to give them the necessary support to include them in counseling, educational support and leisure programs provided by the Counseling Centers for Parents, Educational Centers and “Crestem Impreuna” centers (for children whose parents are working abroad).
The message “Running away from home is a trap, not a refuge!” is a key message and the teams of Save the Children volunteers and specialists carried out educational activities with more than 1,500 students from Bucharest and other 11 Romanian counties , to warn them on the risk situations in which the children and teenagers deprived of support can make decisions with a major negative impact on their safety and lives.
In the attempt to draw attention on the large number of voluntary disappearances among children and teenagers, Save the Children Romania organized a campaign to inform and raise awareness among students and teachers, thus marking the International Missing Children’s Day in Romania.
The main reasons and risk factors that make children leave their families or the care centers are:
- the neglect and lack of supervision from the responsible adults;
- repeated conflicts in the family, the physical and/or emotional abuse on children
- living children in the care of their grandparents or other relatives, when their legal guardians leave to work abroad;
- blockages in their communication with their parents, mainly in difficult situations;
- school dropout and the influence/pressure of the entourage;
- the consumption of alcohol and hallucinogenic substances;
- the poor economic situation of the family.
In the last year (April 30, 2018 – May 20, 2019), 5,078 minors disappeared from home, out of which 151 were aged up to 10, 1,410 were aged between 10 and 14, and 3,517 were aged higher than 14, according to the data provided by the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the General Police Inspectorate. The Save the Children Organization sounds the alarm on the proportions of a phenomenon that has long-term serious consequences.
According to the same source, 5,072 minors have been found, of which:
- 158 aged up to 10;
- 1,395 aged between 10 and 14;
- 3,519 aged higher than 14.
The largest number of disappearances was recorded by the Bucharest General Police Directorate (Sectors 1 to 6), Constanta County Police Inspectorate (I.P.J. Constanta) and Neamt County Police Inspectorate (I.P.J. Neamt), according to the centralized data.
95% of the cases are voluntary departures, most of them being recorded among teenagers. Children leave intentionally their home or the care centers, for an indefinite period.
“There is an increasing number of children who experience life situations in which running away from home seems to be the best solution. They need our immediate and substantial support to realize this is a fake solution, an additional risk of exploitation, abuse and children trafficking.
We must pay a special attention to the children in the care centers and those who are deprived of parental protection as a result of the economic migration phenomenon. Running away from home is, in their view, a solution to all their problems, without realizing that beyond the door of their home or of the care center, there are often big challenges that are hard to manage. These situations we face must be urgently approached by creating some efficient prevention mechanisms for children and the adults who take care of them”, stated the Executive President of Save the Children Romania, Gabriela Alexandrescu.
The data provided by the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children (Missing Children Europe), centralized at European level, show the dramatic contexts experienced by the missing children:
- 58% of them are victims of a form of abuse of exploitation;
- 19% of them are kidnapped in the context of establishing the parental custody (only 16% of the kidnapping procedures of their parents have been solved by mediation, despite its known benefits for the welfare of the parents and children);
- 17% of the missing children in Europe have a cross-border nature;
- in 20% of the cases, the appeals in the press and the alert systems for children had an important role in finding the missing children;
- sleeping on the streets, begging and prostitution are the most frequent strategies, of a maximum risk, used by the fugitive children to be able to survive.