Thursday, February 24, 2011

Too many to pick from, sadly

Everyone has seen those Child Find posters. Pictures of missing children stare out at you, beseeching you to find them and give some resolution to their poor, grief-stricken parents. It’s tragic, to say the least. Kids go missing all the time, from all parts of the world; well over 60 000 a year in Canada alone. Thankfully, the vast majority of them are found in short order. The Child Find posters are for those that aren’t.
Who knows when a tip might send the authorities in the right direction? A new neighbour moves in with a kid that looks nothing like them but makes you think of a face you saw somewhere, and the next thing you know a family is reunited. The odds aren’t good, but if it were my kid, I would want any chance, no matter how slim.
But who vets these posters? What criteria do they use to decide who gets their picture on the proverbial milk carton, and who languishes in the Child Find oubliette? With more than 60 000 missing children cases every year, they have no shortage of kids to choose from. Even if 99% are found or rescued within a week, that leaves 600 potential poster-children in every 12 month period. That is a lot of kids (unfortunately). So why do some get poster space while others don’t?
The last time I saw a Child Find poster I took a good look at it. I have to say the thought process behind some of the kids they chose to display was entirely beyond me.
One had gone missing when he was 18 years old, in 1988! That “kid” turns 41 this year. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if that poor soul isn’t dead, he’s not being found because he doesn’t want to be. Another girl would turn 17 this year, wherever she is. She’s been missing since she was 11 months (months, not years) old. She’s maybe lived her whole life (assuming she’s been lucky enough to have had one) thinking her abductors are her real folks. What are the odds that she’ll ever be found? They had a picture of “her” but it was just a blond model of some teenage girl, since no one can know what a year-old infant is going to look like sixteen years down the road.
Some of the missing kids were more recent, others were just as old (one was missing from the time he was three, and he’d be 25 now). I’m not saying that all of those cases aren’t tragic. Every one deserves to be solved, and if a happy ending can’t be reached, at least the suffering parents would have some closure. What I’m asking is if those example of missing children are really the ones that have the best chance of being resolved with a small space on a poster? Aren’t there others, more timely, more recent, with more accurate information, that might see a little more in the way of results?
I just want to know the rationale behind their decisions. Their website did not have my questions listed as one of their FAQs, I suppose because just asking it is considered insensitive beyond belief. Boorish or not, it’s a valid query: why these, but not others?

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