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2022 Assembly

 

MAY 25 – INTERNATIONAL MISSING CHILDREN‘S DAY 

 

 Anne Kelleher – RENATE Communications Team

 Every year on 25 May, Lithuania and around the world marks the International Day of Missing Children. The day was chosen because of a story that shocked the United States when, on 25 May 1979, six-year-old Ethan Patz disappeared without a trace on his way to school at a bus stop just a couple of blocks from his home. On the initiative of the Missing Persons Families Support Centre, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania added this day to the list of commemorative days in 2006. It is a day not only to remember missing children, but also to remember families who have suffered the terrible loss of a child. The day focuses on the causes of child disappearances around the world, including sexual and physical violence, paedophilia and human trafficking. Lithuania, like 31 European countries, has an international 116 000 hotline for missing children, and was the first Nordic country where the Centre, together with the US Embassy, the Ministry of the Interior, the Lithuanian Police Department and Facebook, launched the Amber Alert Facebook child alert system in Lithuania in 2018. 

According to Missing Children Europe, there is a missing child report every two to three minutes in Europe. In Lithuania, according to the Missing Persons Register, about 2000-2500 cases of disappearance of minors are registered each year. In 2023, 2212 cases of disappearance of children were registered, and in the first quarter of 2024, 570 disappearances of children were registered. It is observed that the main cause of disappearance of children is running away from home or care institutions. Children often run away from problems at home – domestic violence, conflicts, neglect. Children who go missing or run away from home can become easy prey for criminals not only outside the home but also online. It is essential not only to identify the threats to children in good time, but also to provide ongoing prevention efforts involving minors of all ages. In 2023, the Centre organised 25 prevention events in educational establishments, reaching more than 1 200 children studying in Lithuania. From 2024, the Centre has introduced a chat function on www.116000.lt to ensure the widest possible access to help, not only for the relatives of missing children, but also for children who are thinking of running away from home or have already run away. 

On the International Day of Missing Children, we invite parents and their children to visit the sculpture of a lonely girl and touch her hands to bring home all missing children. This tradition of touching the sculpture’s hands started when Pope Francis rubbed the sculpture’s hands and prayed for every missing child to find their way home when he consecrated the sculpture in 2016. 

Brief information about the commemoration on 25 May 2024 is attached. 

Spend at least 5 minutes each day talking to your child, hugging them, feeling for them. By building a secure and trusting relationship, you can prevent your child from disappearing or running away from home. 

More information: 

http://www.116000.lt/institucijoms/ 

Missing persons’ families support centre https://www.missing.lt/ https://www.facebook.com/www.missing.lt 

Contact for enquiries: 

Arūnė Bernatonytė centras2@missing.lt arba +370 670 52 725. 

Director of the Missing Persons Family Support Centre Natalja Kurčinskaja