The number of missing children increases year by year: in 2014 almost 17.000 cases were registered. Most of the children are soon found, but one hundred children disappear every year for good, writes

More and more children go missing every year: the number of registered cases was 11.000 in 2010, and it rose to almost 17.000 in 2014; however, it does not mean that 17.000 children are physically missing and are wandering around in the country. Borbála Csekeő, director of the Kék Vonal Child Crisis Foundation (Kék Vonal Gyermekkrízis Alapítvány), said that this number does not refer to individuals, as a great number of children run away multiple times a year, especially from children’s homes. The police confirmed Csekeő’s statement and added that the number of registered cases is high because of those who leave their home without permit, or do not return by the appointed time.

Most of the missing children are registered in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Hajdú-Bihar, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg, and Pest counties, and their number is especially high in Budapest. One of the most important risk factors is the children’s social-economic background (the family’s financial situation, and the family members’ level of education), and to what extend they can be influenced. In most cases the escape is just a symptom, and cannot be evaluated on its own, Szilvia Gyurkó, children’s rights expert told HVG.

Children usually run away to show that they are in an uncomfortable situation. Their escape is a sign that something is wrong within the family or in the closer environment, and it should be changed, said Csekeő. Most children do not disappear after one argument, but their decision is the outcome of a series of undesirable events. They decide to run away when they feel unwanted or neglected, and do not get the desired attention, but it’s very rare that a child disappears after just one argument.

According to the police every third missing child is recovered one day after they are reported missing, 30% is found within one week, and 35% is found within one month. Authorities say that they know the whereabouts of the remaining children as well, but tracing them is difficult because they are abroad, they are in hiding, or they are staying in Hungary under a refugee status. Ninety per cent of the children who run away from their families (and not from children’s homes) are found 1-2 days after their case is reported, which is a relatively good rate, but there are more than 100 cases every year when the children cannot be found.

According to Csekeő, most of the children who run away do not want to disappear for good, and they often go to places where they will be looked for; they only want to show their guardians that something is not right. The Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI) reported that 48% of the children who ran away from a children’s home returned to their parents, many of them went to friends or lovers, or just wandered around. Twenty-six per cent of them joined people they did not know.

Children’s homes are not very positive places, and integration is hard – this is the most common opinion among experts about these institutions. By the time a child is placed into care they have gone through a lot; they were either verbally or physically abused, and were extremely neglected, and placing them in a home makes things worse.

Miklós Radoszáv, child protection expert, said that not all children demand their parents’ attention and many people surprise when a “good” kid goes missing. The expert also confirmed that the number of missing children is not rising, but some of them run away multiple times. Radoszáv says that parents and guardians should be alerted if the child has new habits, their school performance declines, or their behaviour changes: these are all signs that the family’s priority should be re-evaluated, and they should spend quality time with the children.

based on an article of
translated by Adrienn Sain


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