A countless number of children go missing every year. The category of missing children include a number of problems including abduction or kidnapping of children by family members and by non-family members, run-away children or those forced to run away by family and surrounding circumstances, children who are in a difficult or aggressive environment, trafficked children, and lost children. Because of this wide array of problems it is hard to survey the number of missing children. Often cases are not reported to the police. In 2005 National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) informed that on an average 44000 children are reported missing every year. Of these, as many as 11,000 remain untraced.
Children who go missing may be exploited and abused for various purposes from camel jockeys in the Gulf countries to victims of organ trade and even grotesque cannibalism as reported at Nithari village in Noida. There are also a large number of children who run away from homes after dropping out of school or facing difficulties at home. They usually run away to the glamorous big cities where they fall prey to exploiters and are employed in tea stalls, brothels, beggary, etc. Most of the children come from poorer families who do not have access to police services or whose reports are not taken seriously.
When a child goes missing there no FIR filed as there is no cognizable offence committed. Hence only an entry is made into the General Station Diary at the concerned police office. Information of the missing child is forwards up to the Chief of police as well as locally police officers generate awareness through the media. The police headquarters of each state has a missing person bureau. A database of missing persons is maintained by the Missing Persons Wing at the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in New Delhi.
Some recommendations/suggestions of the NHRC Committee made to state and union governments:
- Missing children should become a priority issue with state and union governments and law enforcement agencies.
- Every police station should have a special squad and missing person's desk dedicated to tracing missing children. Special Juvenile Police Unit can also be used in this purpose.
- Reiterate the High court decision to establish a missing children's cell in the CBI
- District administrators are responsible for keeping tabs on the number of working children in his/her district. He/she is required to make regular inspections of these spaces
- All missing children cases nationally should be reported to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
- Missing children's investigation should include the help of the Panchayat and community.
- NGO's can also assist in reporting and investigating missing children
- NCRB needs to set up a system/database so that all missing children cases are available to local authorities.
- Government is required to give ample support to the emergency helpline CHILDLINE 1098
- It is advisable that FIRs be filed in the case of missing children.
report on missing children discusses the relation of trafficking to missing children. It reports that on average 44,475 children go missing every year. The data also shows an increase in missing children over the years, an increased in untraced cases and increase of cases of missing children in certain metropolitan cities and states led my Maharashtra at a yearly average of 13,881. The report states that children are often kidnapped or trafficked for prostitution, organ donations, employment, and such activities.
The National Centre for Missing Children is an online website where one can search cases of missing children as well as report cases. Many NGOs claim that estimates of missing children are much higher than reported.
To read more trafficking please visit the section on Child Trafficking
Report of the NHRC Committee on Missing Children