Boy, 10, found after running away from home for 20th time

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Boy, 10, found after running away from home for 20th time

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
Senior staff reporter
dunkleywillisa@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 27, 2020

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DWIGHT Fox, the 10-year-old boy from Bullet Tree district in Old Harbour, St Catherine, for whom the police yesterday activated a high alert, was later found, but concerns are that he is a repeat runaway who has vanished from his home as many as 20 times, the Jamaica Observer has learnt.

According to a police report, thee boy is of dark complexion, slender, and about four feet six inches tall. He was reportedly wearing a yellow shirt, blue shorts, and a pair of yellow slippers when he was last seen at home on Tuesday afternoon.

An individual close to the situation told the Observer yesterday that expressed concern that some form of intervention was needed for the child as the situation has many red flags.

The Observer was also told that the minor had been referred to the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).

“He has done it maybe more than 20 times now. Honestly we are trying to find out why, but he is not talking,” an officer from the Old Harbour Police Station, to whom the report was initially made, explained. He added that this time the boy was found in Marlie Acres, Old Harbour, at the home of a woman, but said they were no closer to determining his reasons for running away.

Fox, who lives with his father, has now been placed with his mother since being located.

Yesterday, an official from the CPFSA confirmed that the matter concerning young Dwight had been brought to their attention. “We have an officer who was assigned to work with him and family [and] we are meeting with them tomorrow (today).”

In January this year Betty-Ann Blaine, founder of advocate group Hear the Children's Cry, told the Observer that a worrying trend by children to disappear and reappear at will, developed over the past two to three years, has placed parents and caregivers in a bind as they are not sure whether they should report these children as missing. According to Blaine, the average age range for children reported missing is 14 to 17 years.

Data from the CPFSA for January to October last year indicate that 1,334 children were reported missing, with 71 per cent, or 942, of them having returned home or were found. However, five of the missing — including three girls — were found dead.

The CPFSA said there has been a five per cent increase in the number of children reported missing when compared to the corresponding period of 2018. Furthermore, 19 per cent fewer children returned home between January and October 2019 compared to the similar period in 2018.

The Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) recorded a total of 1,512 reports of missing children in 2018, the lowest figure since the Ananda Alert system was launched 11 years ago following the kidnapping and murder of 11-year-old Ananda Dean.

The CPFSA said that in 2017 a total of 1,674 children were reported missing and 1,476, or 90 per cent, returned home or were recovered.

As in previous years, the majority of those who went missing in 2019 are females, according to the police missing persons monitoring unit. Some 155 of the 188 children who were reported missing in the month of May 2019 alone were girls.

In June 2019 a total of 111, the second-highest number of girls for the year, were reported missing. In total, 1,026 of the children reported missing for the 10-month period are girls. Still, 285 girls are noted as missing, and 84 boys.


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