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'It doesn't matter if it's the first or fifth time they've run away - it's not safe for the child'

Tomorrow is International Missing Children’s Day and the ISPCC said most of the 30,000 missing child cases in the last six years have been runaways.

Image: child image via Shutterstock

THERE ARE MORE than 5,000 reports of missing children in Ireland each year, with some 30,000 cases if missing children reported to the gardaí since 2008.

A missing children helpline set up by the charity the ISPCC received more than 500 calls in its first year, with calls coming from young people thinking about running away and parents looking for advice and support because their own child is missing.

The most recent figures from gardaí show 6,615 reports of missing children in 2012 alone. Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Rhona McGinn, a regional manager at the ISPCC said children often go missing more than once and in most cases, they have not been abducted.

“In our view, the most frequent aspect is in relation to running away,” she explained. “There are a couple of things to look at that might be a reason for going away from home. Something may be pushing them away or it might be the case that something is luring them or pulling them away, like an inappropriate adult perhaps.”

McGinn said with children who run away frequently, they are unlikely to call gardaí for support – but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it.

You’d worry where they might be going to and what they might be doing – it doesn’t mater if it’s the first or the fifth time. In fact, the frequency could potentially increase the risk and that’s what we would be aware of and keep in mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s just for a short duration – it’s still not safe for the child.

Tomorrow is International Missing Children’s Day and the ISPCC said it holds special significance for the charity because it is marking the first year of operating its 116 000 Missing Children Hotline. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Other aspects of the service that are available include an automated text service offering support to young people who have run away, face-to-face support, and advice on the website.

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