The phenomenon of disappearing children
It would be very difficult for anyone perusing the news to miss the weekly reports of at least one youngster going missing. In fact, we could not recall any particular week recently when there weren’t multiple reports of children as young as 12 who had vanished, most of the time while in transit to or from school or on the weekends awaiting a taxi or something similar. And just as vague as the disappearances are, so are the reports of many who are found, possibly because the media isn’t given details of the circumstances surrounding the cases. And that’s the burning question that lingers week after week…where exactly were these children? Were being held under duress or did they run away?
This phenomenon of disappearing children only took a turn for the worse in recent months and seems to be in parallel with growing crime across the board. One theory is that criminals of all varieties are taking full advantage of the obvious weaknesses in the detection and prosecution expertise of the protective services. Another is that weaknesses or holes in existing legislation is making it easier for traffickers and sex offenders to travel freely to countries where laws are lax.
In a newspaper report earlier this week, attorney, Jonathan Bhagan called for this country to join forces with the US department of Justice to share data on registered sex offenders. He also raised questions about the issue of whether the sex offenders registry should become public information and the current inability to legally use information about predators dispatched by Interpol. At present, only the Police Service has access to the contents of the registry of sex offenders that was created in 2015. And this we feel may be the root of the growing, troubling issue of disappearing children. Ineffective legislation, dubious data in the hands of an already overworked and unprepared protective service.
We agree with attorney Bhagan that this country should seek the co-operation of any jurisdiction that could assist. We should even take a page from some of the US States where sex offenders must be publicly identified by a notice posted in front of their homes. Our situation is dire and any help we could get to protect our children from predators should be sought. While the authorities have a legal and moral responsibility to protect children, information on victims who were recovered should be made available in an appropriate manner, so as to avoid speculation and doubt among the population. And while the Children’s Authority seems like a reactive body, it is hoped that its scope of influence could be expanded to make it proactive instead so that our youngsters could be youngsters in an environment free of predators, paedophiles and traffickers.
March 10th, 2017