Children are curious by nature. And sometimes this can separate them away from mummy and daddy. Be it hiding under a rack in a department store or wandering off to the deeper waters at the beach, losing sight of your boy or girl can be scary and alarming. In the United States, an average of 2,185 children was reported missing each day (National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, 2012). While there are no statistics of missing children in Singapore, there have been stories of missing children circulating on the social media over the years, with parents seeking help from the online community and public to find their lost child.
No parents can escape from the reality that their child may get lost in one day. Here are some pointers to consider when your child is lost:
#1 Stay calm. You may call out and shout your child’s name. If there are no replies after several attempts of calls and searching the vicinity, it is best to seek help. If you are in a shopping mall, proceed to the information counter immediately to air an announcement.
#2 Call the authorities. Every moment can affect the process of looking for your child. When you are not able to find your child on your own, do not hesitate to seek help from family, friends, the community and the police. If there is still no response after you have tried all means and methods, call the police or lodge a missing person report at any police service counter. There is no minimum time required for the missing person to have lost contact with family members before the report can be lodged.
#3 Provide all the details. Tell the police when you first noticed your child was missing and what clothing he or she was wearing. You are advised to provide the police with the missing child’s name, date of birth, height, weight and descriptions of any other features such as moles, spectacles and braces. Provide a recent photo of your missing child to help with the searches.
#4 When you reunite with your lost child, do not immediately blame or scold them as this experience can be quite traumatic for them as well. When you and your child have calmed a little from the ordeal, tell them firmly that what they did made you very worried.
Before going out in crowded public places, make sure that you have done the necessary safety precautions:
- Arrange to meet at a specific point or area in case you are separated from them.
- Dress your kids in bright colours. Yellow, red and green are dominant colours in a crowd and you will find it easier to locate your child.
- You can also attach or add a type of identification to his clothes for easy identification. For example, wearing a cap, tag or armband.
- Educate your child on the dangers of bad people such as kidnappers.
- Teach your child to spot authority figures such as security guards, policemen or national servicemen, and approach them for help.
- If they can’t find any of the above figures, the next group of people they can approach are store assistants, or other mummies and daddies in the area for help.
- Explain to your child that it’s alright to call out for help and to look for people in ‘uniform’ (refer to the above point) should they ever get lost.
For those who wish to provide information on a missing child can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.spf.gov.sg. All information received will be strictly confidential.
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