KINGSTON, Jamaica - In commemoration of International Missing Children Day, which will be observed on Thursday, May 25, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), through the Ananda Alert Secretariat, will host a youth forum on the day.
This will be held at Altamont Court Hotel, Altamont Crescent, Kingston, from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm.
Students representing 15 high schools from across the island are expected to attend the forum, which is aimed at developing youth-centred solutions to address the missing children crisis being faced in Jamaica.
Ananda Alert Officer at the CPFSA, Annadjae Roberts, said the missing children phenomenon is a complex one that requires a comprehensive strategy of intervention.
During the sessions, attendees will be informed about the different initiatives that the CPFSA has implemented over the years to mitigate the missing children problem.
Roberts informed that youth-centred discussions and presentations will be led by the youth, whom she described as the best persons to design programmes, with their peers being the central focal point.
“The CPFSA recognises that young people are the experts of their own environments, so it is very important to engage their expertise at the developmental stage of any interventions which will have a positive impact on their well-being,” she said.
The main objectives of the forum are to engage young people in discussions surrounding their safety and contributing factors to missing episodes, to highlight ‘red-flag’ behaviours and the warning signs of predators, for participants to understand the increased risks associated with going missing, and to develop youth-centred solutions to reduce instances of missing children and improve effectiveness of recovery or intervention efforts.
A panel of experts will also be on hand to speak on different topical issues. They include representatives from various units within the CPFSA, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).
Reports have shown that the group of children between the ages of 13 and 16 is consistently prevalent in data on missing children.
The Ananda Alert System was implemented to ensure the safe and speedy recovery of a missing child, in the unfortunate event that he or she is ever reported missing. The system became operational in May 2009, after the 2008 abduction of 11-year-old Ananda Dean.
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