A national report says thousands of children go missing every year in Canada, though it’s a rare occurrence in Calgary, say police.
May 25 marked International Missing Children’s Day, a day where people around the world remember the missing children who have found their way home, remember those who have been victims of crime, and continue efforts to find those who are still missing.
Two top Canadian law enforcement officials and the Missing Children Society of Canada urged the public to join in the search for missing children on May 25.
“The public serves as an extra set of eyes and ears for the police and is a voice for missing children,” Chief Bryan Larkin, President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said in the video.
Children found quickly in Calgary
In Calgary, there are nine historical missing children and youth investigations currently open. Eight of those are classed as parental abductions. One of the files has been open since 1991.
According to Calgary police records, there are two missing siblings between the ages of zero and 12 years old whose 2022 case is also being investigated as a parental abduction. There are nine missing youth between the ages of 13 to 18 years old currently under investigation.
Staff Sergeant Martin Schiavetta of the Calgary Police Service said there are different factors to look at when discussing a missing child compared to a missing youth.
“We categorize our missing persons. We have a total number of missing persons, we break it down by age and ethnicity,” said Schiavetta.
In 2021, federal figures showed there were 28,033 police reports of missing children and youth across Canada. The information is compiled by the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, with data filed into the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). However, it’s rare for a child to go missing in Calgary.
“It’s a very rare event, a child gone missing and not being found. Fortunately, children are found generally very quickly,” said Schiavetta.
Schiavetta said, most people are good people, but there are still some who want to cause harm. Therefore, it’s still important for children to be street-wise, and the way to do that is through education.
How to keep your child safe (Courtesy Calgary Police Service)
Teach your children who is a safe adult.
Have a conversation with your child about who a stranger is, and how even people known to them could still be dangerous. In the past, children have been told about “stranger danger,” however, unfortunately, we now know that many child abductions are actually committed by people the child already knows. The important message to teach your children is to not go anywhere with anyone without first getting permission from you.
Use the buddy system.
When your children are out in the community, make sure they are always with at least one other person. Make sure you get to know your children’s friends and their parents and have contact numbers in case of an emergency.
Show your children safe places in the community.
Point out safe places in your community that your children can go to for help if they need it. These places could include police, fire and EMS stations, schools, community centres, businesses, or even trusted neighbours. It’s important for children to have multiple places they can go to in an emergency.
Know where your child is at all times.
If your child is travelling anywhere by themselves, make sure you agree on a predetermined route before they go. If it’s somewhere they go often, they should always use the same route so you know where they’ll be. Also, always have your child text or call you when they arrive at their final destination or when they are on their way home.
Staying safe online.
If you’re children use social media platforms, make sure you know who they are communicating with. It’s important to teach them that people they meet online may not always be who they say they are. If they want to meet an online friend in person, you should be involved in making the plans and be present when the meeting happens.
If an attempted abduction happens teach your children to actively resist, shout out loud and draw attention to themselves. Make sure they know where to go for help or how to call the police.
“We need your eyes and support,” said the Missing Children Society of Canada.