25th of May: International Missing Children’s Day
Athens, 20 May 2019
25th of May: International Missing Children’s Day
“The Smile of the Child” unites forces in Greece and beyond for the enhancement of the protection of all children victims of disappearance
“The Smile of the Child”, for the 16th consecutive year, on the occasion of the 25th of May – International Missing Children’s Day, organized a dedicated event on the new actions, initiatives and synergies for the prevention and tackling of cases of missing children, as well as persons that belong to vulnerable and high-risk groups. The event was moderated by journalist Mrs. Alexandra Kapelentzi.
According to the official statistics of “The Smile of the Child”, 191 children were reported missing and were being searched for in 2018, while the Amber Alert Hellas mechanism was activated 11 times. Respectively, within the period from January to April 2019, 37 children were reported missing and were being searched for, while Amber Alert was activated on 2 occasions. According to the data of the Hellenic Police, presented by Mr. Nikolaos Zervakakos, Head of the Missing Persons’ Subdivision of the Hellenic Police, from 1/1/2018 to 11/5/2019 299 cases of missing children and 1.514 cases of missing unaccompanied children were handled.
At the opening of the meeting a short addresses were extended by Mrs. Xeni Dimitriou Vasilopoulou, Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Mr. Nikolaos Manios, MP, Mrs. Anthoula Mpoumpa, Head of the Piraeus Prosecutor’s Office, Mr. Lucian Fătu, Ambassador of Romania (Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU), Mrs. Iveta Hricova, Ambassador of Slovakia (Slovak 2019 OSCE Chairmanship), Mr. Georgios Kastanis, Head of the Security Division of the Hellenic Police, Mr. Thomas Stavroathanasopoulos, Captain, Hellenic National Defense General Staff, Mrs. Maria Papamichail, Colonel, Hellenic Army General Staff, and Mr. Aristeidis Kalovredis, Battalion Chief, Hellenic Fire Brigade. Short addresses were also extended by Mr. Panagiotis Vasilakis, Head of the Security Division of the Omonoia Police Station, Athens, Mr. Stuart Kenny, President of the National Search and Rescue Dog Association (NSARDA), while a recorded message from Mr. Paul Shapiro, Chief Executive Officer of International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) was screened.
The President of the BoD of the Organization “The Smile of the Child”, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, announced a number of new synergies in Greece and abroad, and the utilization of new technological tools and innovative means with the goal of enhancing the protection of children, as well as adults that belong to vulnerable groups.
“The Smile of the Child” stands by every child victim of disappearance, always in cooperation with the competent authorities and always with respect to the official search procedures of the Hellenic Police and the orders of the prosecutorial authorities”, said Mr. Yannopoulos, while he added: “For one more year we have proven in practice that by uniting our forces and utilizing our knowledge and specialized personnel, both professionals and volunteers, we are able to continue to respond effectively and immediately when a child goes missing, rendering Greece an example in the management of missing children cases on a global scale”.
Mrs. Xeni Dimitriou Vasilopoulou, Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, referred to the need to create strong alliances for the immediate tackling of missing children cases, such as the one between the Prosecution of the Supreme Court and “The Smile of the Child”. In the context of this specific cooperation, Mrs. Dimitriou Vasilopoulou highlighted the importance of the recent training seminars, held by “The Smile of the Child” in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras with the aim to train judicial and prosecutorial servants and improve the management of missing children cases.
The new innovative programme of Missing Alert was presented during the event, an initiative that will be implemented by the Organization based on the model of Amber Alert Hellas for the prevention and tackling of cases of missing persons that belong to vulnerable and high-risk groups. The aim of this initiative is to provide specialized protection to persons that run a risk of going missing (for example due to a mental disorder, psychological problems etc.), missing persons following an accident or a natural disaster, or persons with serious health problems in need of constant medical/pharmaceutical support.
In addition, in the context of new tools and technological means, whose utilization is made possible by “The Smile of the Child” thanks to the cooperation of international organizations, technology leading companies on a worldwide level, as well as companies and organizations in Greece, the following tools were presented:
● The Missing Alert App with the kind support of COSMOTE
● The Child Rescue programme, with the participation of 10 organizations from 6 EU Member States and the coordination of the National Technical University of Athens
● The GMCNgine and the FIA Missing Child Alert of the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN)
● The Chat App of the SOS 1056 hotline implemented with the kind support of the National Bank of Greece.
In addition, the new members of the Amber Alert Hellas were presented with the participation of DHL Express, the Greek Amateurs Radio Association and the new members of the Search and Rescue Team “Thanasis Makris”.
In the outdoor facilities of the venue, the logistical and technical means at the disposal of missing children were presented, including among others the Mobile Lab of Information, Education and Technology “Odysseas”, Mobile Medical Units (ambulances), rescue vehicles, bicycles, motorbikes, mobile generators, rescuers and volunteers, dog teams from across Greece, vehicles from the Fire Brigade, the Hellenic Police, Hellenic Army and the Coast Guard.
Finally, young visitors from the private kindergarten “Lilipoupoli” had the opportunity to attend the presentation of a fairytale on the issue of child disappearances and pass their own unique message for the International Day.
Watch here video footage from the event.
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FULL STATISTICAL DATA
According to the official statistics of “The Smile of the Child”
814 students took part in interactive interventions
846 teachers took part in interactive interventions
1.122 parents and guardians took part in interactive interventions
191 children were reported missing
148 children were located
11 times AMBER ALERT was activated
3 times the Search and Rescue Team “Thanasis Makris” was mobilized
12.487 calls were made to the European Hotline for Missing Chilren 116000
From January to April 2019:
515 students took part in interactive interventions
277 teachers took part in interactive interventions
668 parents and guardians took part in interactive interventions
37 were reported missing
33 children were located
2 times AMBER ALERT was activated
2 times the Search and Rescue Team “Thanasis Makris” was mobilized
2.172 calls were made to the European Hotline for Missing Chilren 116000
According to the official statistics of the Hellenic Police:
The Hellenic Police handled 299 cases of missing children and 1.514 cases of missing unaccompanied children from 1/1/2018 to 11/5/2019.
According to the European Federation of Missing Children Europe, based in Brussels in 2018:
● In 2018, 91 655 calls related to missing children were answered by 26 hotlines across Europe.
● 5% of calls related to the prevention of child disappearance and abduction cases.
● 58.2% of missing children ran away or were pushed out of home or care in 2018 making runaways the bulk of missing children cases.
● 14% of missing children cases were involved in cross-border cases in 2018
● 23% of missing children faced an element of violence, abuse, neglect and/or exploitation.
● 36% of runaways faced violence and abuse in 2018
● The most common reasons why children in migration went missing, in 2018, included children not trusting the system, wanting to leave with friends, the process taking too long and shelter facilities that were inadequate and not appropriate for children.
According to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), based in Washington D.C.:
● In Australia, an estimated 25,000 young people are reported missing every year.
● In Brazil, an estimated 40,000 children are reported missing every year.
● In Spain, an estimated 33,467 children were reported missing in 2018.
● In the United Kingdom, over 80,000 children go missing annually.
● In 2018, there were 424,066 reports of missing children in the United States.