Campaign launched to raise public awareness of missing children hotline

Written by Martin Banks on 7 June 2018 in News

S&D group MEP Julie Ward has backed a campaign to raise public awareness of a hotline for missing children and help tackle a funding crisis for groups who work with runaway youths.

The campaign was launched outside the European Parliament on Wednesday. The aim is to raise awareness of the 116 000 hotline number for missing children.

Missing Children Europe recreated the number in front of the Parliament with donations of children’s second-hand clothing, toys and books, to show what is left behind when a child goes missing.

Next to drawing attention to the funding needs of the hotline number, the group also called for more awareness of children who run away or are thrown out of home or care institutions. Runaways have consistently been the largest group of children going missing in Europe and constituted 57 per cent of cases in 2017. 

Missing Children Europe will also organise a parallel event at the Parliament, to learn about local initiatives in support of runaways from various countries.

The move is backed by Julie Ward, who told this website, “Initiatives such as the Missing Children Hotline demonstrates the value of joining forces to tackle common challenges, which is exactly what the EU is about.

“Figures and trends presented by organisations working on the ground is key to understand the realities of the different situations. As policymakers we need these evidence and analysis to provide the relevant support, both in terms of financial support and sound policy making, including prevention and exchange of good practices as well as cooperation between existing systems across Europe.

“As a champion of children’s rights I was glad to host the event in the European Parliament.”

All items for the installation were collected through donations from different volunteers and organisations and will be donated to Oxfam.

Lack of financial resources is said to be the biggest issue faced by the European hotlines for missing children, according to new data. 

With allocated funding provided by the European Commission over the past decade comes to an end, Missing Children Europe are now calling on national governments to step in to provide financial support. 

However, more than half of the hotlines report that they do not have access to funding from their national authorities, and one in six actually face opposition from their government.

Having celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2017, the 116 000 hotline created by Missing Children Europe provides emotional, psychological, social, legal and administrative support for missing children and their families to all member states as well as Serbia, Albania, Switzerland and partially in Ukraine. In 2017, they received a total of 189,054 calls related to missing children across the continent, supporting a total of 5621 missing children.

Despite their vulnerability, runaways are an overlooked group of children and due to the negative perception of runaways, the issue lacks appropriate attention, said campaigners.

Liuska Sanna, Secretary General of Missing Children Europe, said, “With this campaign and event, we want to remind children and families that there is support available. In such moments of despair, no matter what language or location in Europe, parents and children can call the 116 000 hotline.”

She added, “We want to shed a light on the hotline number across Europe, which does crucial work to support missing children and their families.”


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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