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Why do children go missing? May 2019 named Missing Children’s month in Saskatchewan

Marnie Grundman keynote speaker at Child Find Saskatchewan event
Marnie Grundman shared her story of running away from home at a young age and living on the streets during a Child Find Saskatchewan event on May 8, 2018 in Saskatoon.

Saskatchewan has named May 2019 Missing Children’s Month, coinciding with Child Find Saskatchewan’s (CFS) 28th annual Green Ribbon of Hope campaign.

The dedication is to spread awareness for missing children, and the families affected, as well as preventative strategies.

“Every year, Saskatchewan children go missing and we see the devastating impact this has on their family, friends, and community,” said Social Services Minister Paul Merriman in a release.

READ MORE: Sask. mother in mourning aims to start support group for those who lost a child

There have been 136 reports of missing children in Saskatchewan this year alone, and there are a number of reasons they go missing.

“They’re running [away] from care homes or foster homes back home regardless of what happened at that home; its family,” said Sue Ramsay, spokesperson for Child Find Saskatchewan (CFS).
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“They’re running because abuse is prevalent. It’s safer to live on the street than it is at home. There’s kids that run because they don’t want to abide by the household rules.”

Ramsay said they’re also facing an increase in children running away after they’ve met someone online.

READ MORE: Missing Saskatchewan girl found alive ‘face down in the snow’

“It’s one of the worst battles we are fighting right now as a missing person agency, and police agencies are trying to get under that right now.”

She added there are short-term runaways, kids who “run away for the weekend and go party and come back on Sunday.”

Domestic disputes over children come into play as well. If a child is with a parent who doesn’t have custody, the child can be reported missing, according to Ramsay.

AMBER Alerts are issued when there is a belief that the child has been abducted or the child is in imminent danger, and there is information to be released to the public that may help locate the child, according to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

Though there have been 136 reports of missing children, one child can make up a number of those reports.

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“There are children who suffer in abusive homes, so they run once a week or month. They run from care, from something or to something. Every time that child is reported missing to RCMP or Police, it is counted as one individual person reported missing,” said Ramsay.

READ MORE: Police warn not to leave children unattended in vehicles after Saskatchewan Amber Alert

Missing Children’s month also encompasses ‘missing persons week’, taking place May 5 – 11.

Missing people are “the most common call that police get, and they spend an extraordinary amount of time following up on those calls,” said Ramsay.

There are some misguided notions when it comes to missing people, according to Ramsay.

“To report a missing person, you don’t have to wait 24 hours, and you don’t have to be a family member to report.”

What’s being done to prevent children from going missing?

EGADZ is a non-profit providing programs and services to children, youth, and their families, and the province has announced $125,000 for the organization to continue Operation Runaway to help reduce the number of times young people run away.

The development of a risk assessment tool at EGADZ has also resulted in 276 fewer reports of missing youth between September 2018 and March 2019.

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Along with educational and preventative programs for missing children, CFS provides support for searching families, daily social media blasts for missing persons, and search tactics for families.

“Over the last 35 years, Child Find has developed preventative and educational programs which are delivered throughout the province with the goal of helping to keep children and youth safe,” said Phyllis Hallatt, Child Find Saskatchewan president in a release.

The public can get involved with Missing Children’s month by wearing green ribbons, available throughout Saskatchewan.

“Our Green Ribbon serves as a symbol of hope that missing children will return home safely,” said Hallatt.

To find out where you can get one, contact Child Find Saskatchewan at 306-955-0070.

All proceeds generated by the campaign will support Child Find Saskatchewan to continue their mandate of assisting in the search for missing children and the education of children and adults about abduction.