International missing children expert to visit tomorrow
Katia Dantas, policy director for Latin America and the Caribbean with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), is set to arrive in the island tomorrow.
Dantas will be a special guest during the Missing Children's Awareness Week being hosted by the advocacy group Hear The Children's Cry and its Missing Children's Support Programme.
The visit is being supported by Jamaica Yellow Pages, main sponsor of the Missing Children's Support Programme.
Last year, 1,984 children were reported missing in Jamaica, a 10 per cent decline from the 2,205 children that were reported missing in 2013.
Of the total number of children reported missing in 2014, 79 per cent were females, while 21 per cent were males. The data also revealed that approximately nine out of every 10 children reported missing in 2014 have since returned home.
In addition, there was a 57 per cent decline in the number of children who were still missing when compared to the corresponding period in 2013. The number of children reported still missing at the end of December 2014 declined by 214 children, from the 467 recorded at the end of the same period in 2013.
For the first quarter of this year, 492 children were reported missing.
These figures are among the issues to be discussed during ICMEC official's four-day visit.
ICMEC is a leading global movement to protect children from sexual exploitation and abduction.
It empowers and equips global partners - in government, academia, law enforcement, private industry and the non-governmental organisation community - to make the world a safer place for children.
According to Hear The Children's Cry founder Betty Ann Blaine, "The Missing Children's Awareness Week is a critical initiative designed to focus heightened national attention on the major crisis of missing children, including the deterioration of family life, in Jamaica".
"During her [Dantas'] visit, she will meet with a wide range of stakeholders, including law-enforcement officers and others working for and/or concerned with the welfare of children, sharing her experiences and discussing best practices.