On the International Day of Missing Children, we invite you to take the time to talk to children, to talk to them about their difficulties, to listen and hear what they have to say, and to raise awareness about the dangers outside the home.
On May 25, Lithuania, along with the rest of the world, observes International Missing Children’s Day.
According to Missing Children Europe, a report about a missing child is received in Europe every two to three minutes.
In Lithuania, according to the data from the Ministry of the Interior, the register of missing persons includes 2,000 to 2,500 missing minors each year, based on initiated and ongoing search cases. In 2022, there were
1,938 cases of missing children registered, and in the first quarter of 2023, there were 383 cases.
The goal of the Missing Persons’ Family Support Center is to draw attention to children, their problems, and to prevent them from running away from home and going missing. Approximately 90% of all missing children
have run away from home or institutions at least once. Due to a lack of information dissemination and preventive measures, vulnerable children are easily drawn into human trafficking, other crimes, exposed to drug abuse, and suffer from sexual exploitation. In 2022, there were 498 registered cases of children affected by sexual violence, and in the first quarter of 2023 alone, 212 minors have already been affected by sexual exploitation.
It is essential to protect, nurture, and educate our young society members to raise their awareness so that a child, even without realizing the real danger, does not become a victim of crime. The state has a moral obligation to take all possible measures to reduce this threat.
The Missing Persons’ Families Support Center, in its efforts to prevent child disappearances, their involvement in human trafficking and other crimes, has developed the idea of long-term prevention through the installation of the sculpture “Mama..!” in one of the notable places in Vilnius, near the Lithuanian Children and Youth Center, at Konstitucijos Avenue 25, Vilnius.
We invite parents and children to visit the sculpture of the lonely girl and touch her little hands, hoping that all missing children will return home. The tradition of touching the sculpture’s hands originated in 2016, when Pope Francis blessed the statue, rubbing its hands and praying for every missing child worldwide to find their way back home.
For those unable to visit, we also invite you to commemorate this day in all educational institutions in Lithuania. Teachers, along with their students, are encouraged to decorate school courtyards, city parks, and tree branches with colorful paper butterflies, origami cranes, or symbolic keys made by children. Fluttering in the wind, these butterflies, cranes, and keys symbolize anticipation and hope.
For more information, please visit:
Missing Persons’ Families Support Centre
Contact for inquiries: Arūnė Bernatonytė
- arba +370 670 52725.
Director of Missing Persons‘ Families Support Centre: Natalja Kurčinskaja