Thursday, 23 May 2013 12:36
The Jamaican government spearheaded by Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna has taken action to counter the frequent incidences of missing children, mostly teenage girls.
Last week, Hanna signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to improve Jamaica's Ananda Alert System, a vehicle for alerting the public to and finding missing children. The improvements will involve a multi-sectoral approach.
At the signing it was also announced that the Ananda System will be receiving a budgetary allocation of $9 million as a means to improve its response and recovery mechanism.
The minister said the additional resources ensure that the required staffing and management mechanisms are in place to support the Ananda System, and enhance the recovery efforts whenever a child is reported missing.
The Ananda Alert System is operated by the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR), but Hanna emphasized that parents, guardians, children and the entire society should be proactive in the prevention and reporting of cases of missing children. According to her, "one missing child is one too many."
In recent years there has been a rash, almost daily occurrence, of Ananda reports of missing teens, mostly girls averaging age 14, in Jamaica.
One thousand eight hundred and four (1804) children were reported missing in Jamaica in 2012. Of that amount 1603 were reported as having returned home safely, however as the minister noted the number of children who has returned home safely could be higher as some parents haven't notified the authorities of the children's return.
A former Broward school security officer, a Jamaican, who has offered assistance in the solving the problems of missing children in Jamaica, said he was heartened to see the Jamaican government "taking meaningful steps to curtail this tragedy of missing children."
With the Ananda System, the name and photograph of missing children are published in the Jamaican media as soon as possible after they're reported. With the added resources use will be made of social media, billboards and other multimedia equipment in stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and other locations to enhance the possibility of finding missing children sooner, and decreases the possibility of them coming to harm.