Missing Children’s Centre to be opened in the Czech Republic

Every year, as many as ten thousand children go missing in the Czech Republic. Although most are found, many aren’t and the country still lacks an effective monitoring system that would prevent them from ending up on the streets or becoming victims of abuse. On Tuesday, members of the Missing Children Europe organisation met in the Czech capital; they discussed the establishment of a network of national centres that would exchange information on missing children at the European level.

Francis Jacobs,  photo: CTK
The Czech Republic has long discussed the possibility of establishing a monitoring system that would record and analyse every missing child case – why a child has run away, what places children tend to run away from, and where they seek refuge. Originally the system was to be launched last year but it was postponed due to organisational problems. Francis Jacobs is the president of Missing Children Europe.

“We very much hope that our meeting here will provide a further stimulus for the establishment of a Czech centre. Such organizations have worked extremely effectively in other European countries. We have the example of Greece in particular and other organizations in Belgium and Austria doing very effective job.”

Monika Šimůnková, the deputy head of the Our Children or Naše Dítě foundation that hosted the meeting, outlines the purpose of these centres:

Another topic on the agenda was the establishment of an Alert System in child searches, which has been successfully operating in various countries, including the United States. Delphine Moralis is the secretary general of Missing Child Europe:

Delphine Moralis,  photo: CTK
“It’s actually inspired by the American system called Amber alert, which is a system that allows to inform the public immediately of the disappearance of a child and as such involve the public at large in identifying a missing child in certain very specific circumstances, such as the abduction of a child or when we know that the child is actually facing a life threatening situation. So the idea is not to alert the public at any disappearance at any time but really to use it very functionally to save the life of a child that is a victim of abduction.”

The system makes use of TV, radio and even electronic billboards. However, as Mrs Moralis points out, none of the systems preventing child abuse and searching for missing children can operate successfully unless they are interconnected:

“When children go missing in the border areas there is an urgent need for the systems in the different countries to communicate and to be interconnected to be effective and to find the missing child.”

The Czech Republic can only become part of a wider European network once it establishes its own national centre. According to Monika Šimůnková from the Our Child Foundation that could happen in two years’ time at the earliest.