A local foundation urged parents yesterday to spend time with their children and reminded parents of what to do to prevent children from going missing.
On International Missing Children’s Day, the Child Welfare League Foundation encouraged parents to spend 25 minutes telling their children how to protect themselves in different situations.
“Parents can be with their kids for at least 25 minutes on this day to improve the parent-child relationship,” said Alicia Wang (王育敏), chief executive officer of the foundation. “Many of the cases in which kids run away from home to meet online friends result from lukewarm relationships or conflicts at home.”
The foundation also unveiled a report on missing children in Taiwan. Nearly 16 percent of the children that left home voluntarily were influenced by the Internet, including lingering around Internet cafes or staying with people they met online, the statistics showed.
The center has recorded 139 missing children cases related to the Internet since 2001, with the percentage of girls missing double that of boys.
“This is a new phenomenon that parents should be concerned about,” Wang said.
The foundation also found the main reason for youngsters going missing between the ages of seven and 18 is that they left home. Runaways account for 50.5 percent of missing kids aged seven to 12, and 82.7 percent of missing kids aged 13 to 18.
“On the other hand, it is important to teach pre-schoolers how to protect themselves,” such as what to do if they are separated from family in public and how to react when strangers talk to them, Wang said.
About 70 percent of missing kids between the ages of one and six disappeared near their homes. Others disappeared from public spaces, according to the report.
The report was based on data from the Missing Children and Youths Data Management Center, established in 2000 by the foundation and the Ministry of the Interior’s Child Welfare Bureau.
The foundation called on stores to help put up posters with missing children’s photos and information, or offer to print their pictures on fliers or packaging for free.
Wang also suggested parents should take photographs of their children regularly to use as information in case they ever go missing.
Two mothers, whose daughter and son have been missing for 27 and 42 years respectively, brought the media and the audience at the press conference to tears with pleas to help them find their children and “see if any miracle could happen.”
The foundation has helped parents find 1,327 missing children out of the 1,555 cases it received over the past 19 years.