If you suspect that your child is missing, the first thing to do is to open a missing person’s case at a police station near you.
According to Bianca Aswegen, the National Coordinator at Missing Children South Africa (MCSA), there is no waiting period to report a missing person in South Africa.
“The first 24 hours are crucial because the chances of finding them are higher,” says Aswegen.
MCSA was established in 2007 to assist families of missing children. The organisation also helps the South African Police Service (SAPS) in all missing persons’ cases.
Once MCSA is informed about a missing child, it provides an emergency response service to advise callers on immediate steps to take.
The organisation also uses its national networks to distribute flyers of missing persons to create mass awareness of the missing individual.
“Our network provides an incredibly efficient, instant mass distribution of flyers, within moments of an incident,” Aswegen says.
MCSA urges parents and guardians to be extra vigilant and educate themselves and their children on safety measures.
Tips for children
Aswegan says it is difficult to advise children on what to do when they are kidnapped, but there are few general tips to consider.
She says, if possible, the child should try and draw motorists’ attention if they are in a car, or scream and shout as loud as possible if they are in public areas.
“It is important for children to try and get away by all means possible,” she says.
Tips for parents and caregivers
- Teach children how to keep themselves safe;
- Tell your children to stay inside the school grounds while waiting for transport, and to always stay in a group of friends;
- If children are going to a shopping mall or the beach, always ensure that there is adult supervision;
- It is important to tell children not to take anything from a stranger, or go any where with strangers.
- Tell your children to cause a scene and draw attention to themselves if someone makes them feel uncomfortable.
For more information, visit the MCSA's website at www.missingchildren.org.za, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 072 647 7464. You can also report a missing child on the SAPS Crime Stop number - 08600 10111.