More girls go missing than boys, report reveals

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A total of 244 children in Thailand went missing last year with the number of missing girls 50% higher than boys, according to a report released on Friday by the Mirror Foundation, an NGO which helps families with missing children.

Among them, 99 were boys and 145 were girls with only 193 having been found so far, said the report.

The head of the foundation, Eaklak Loomchomkhae, said although the number of children going missing has gradually decreased over the past two years, it’s still a worrying figure.

The foundation had reported that a total of 321 and 422 children had gone missing in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

“The reduced number is probably caused by a shift in demographics. The number of children going missing in Thailand is declining due to our low birth rate but the problem is still there,” Mr Eaklak said.

According to the report, 74% of missing children voluntarily ran away from home to escape domestic violence, 12% were abducted, and some fled to stay with their boy or girlfriends or in response to invitations from those they befriended via online media.

The missing children were usually aged between 13 and 15.

To prevent child abduction, Mr Eaklak suggested that parents teach their children not to talk to strangers.

They should also tell their children to run and scream for help if someone tries to force them to go somewhere and/or tries to push them into a car, ask for help if they are lost and always ask for permission before going anywhere with anybody, he said.

In case a child is already lost or missing, Mr Eaklak advised parents to remain calm and contact local police and officials.

Mr Eaklak said parents should be on their guard when children are unsupervised as unexpected incidents can happen in a second.

Some places where parents often assume their children will be safe are actually danger zones, he said. They include temples, especially when temple fairs are held, hospitals, public parks and shopping malls.

To mark Children’s Day, Mr Eaklak also presented a list collected by his foundation of offenders who have previously committed kidnappings to the Royal Thai Police Office.

“In our experience, offenders who have committed child abductions tend to repeat the crime. We want to share our information with the police, so they can use it to monitor and identify suspects in cases of missing children,” he said.

Pol Lt Gen Pitaya Sirilak, who received the list, said the Royal Thai Police Office had set up a centre to handle cases of missing persons and unidentified bodies.

The centre was developing ways to disseminate information about missing persons to the public, he said. Its hotline number is 1599.

Pol Lt Gen Pitaya also promised that police will be more active in dealing with missing persons cases. –THE MALAYA POST

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