Brussels, 26 November 2021 − This week Missing Children Europe’s General Assembly adopted a new strategy – Consolidating Our Impact on Children – setting out the principles and priorities that will guide our work over the next four years.
MISSING CHILDREN EUROPE’S STRATEGY 2022- 2025
As the only pan-European membership network focused on missing children, we will build on our existing strengths and target our activities where they will have the greatest impact on children.
The data we collect from the network of 116000 missing child hotlines we coordinate is the only annual source of European data on missing children. Together with expertise from our members, and insights from children with experience of going missing, it forms the basis of our work.
We are appreciated for our ability to connect, train, and support frontline organisations to close the gaps in child protection systems across Europe. We are proud of our effectiveness advocating for policy change at EU and international level in partnership with others. Child participation is part of every project we execute and, going forward, we want to embed it in our governance structures.
Our research shows that only 0,5% of missing children cases are criminal abductions. The majority of disappearances reported are children running away, often from a situation of conflict or abuse, abductions by a parent or guardian, and children going missing in migration. Prevention by improving child protection systems is therefore key.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a 17% increase in cases reported to the hotlines in 2020, as it exposed young people to abuse, exploitation and violence, at home and in digital spaces.
Our new strategy outlines how we can have a stronger impact on children in view of these challenges. We will focus on:
- Strengthening the 116 000 hotlines by increasing accessibility for users and by improving quality, capacity, and visibility of the hotlines.
- Runaway children: advancing awareness and dialogue and improving all-round responses for runaways.
- Parental abductions: further promoting and strengthening mediation as a tool to prevent, protect and respond to the issue of parental abductions; and support the voice of the child in international abduction proceedings.
- Children in migration: improving the conditions and procedures that lead to children in migration going missing as well as advocating for and facilitating better cross border responses when they do disappear.
- Strengthening the agility and capability of the network to identify, respond and engage with emerging and under-addressed drivers and consequences of missing, including responses to missing children.